TAUNTON, England: Shahid Afridi promised on Wednesday that Pakistan will go out there and play good cricket for the sake of their countrymen back home and for crowds at venues during a seven-game limited overs series against England getting underway in Cardiff from Sunday.
Pakistans one-day captain said that his team is going through a tough time because of spot-fixing allegations against some fellow team-mates but was quick to add that the visitors will overcome all odds and give their best in the September 5-22 series.
These are tough times for us, there is no doubt about it, said Afridi, who is hoping that allegations against Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir of involvement in a betting scam will prove wrong.
It (the allegations) has hurt us all and we are hoping that the controversy will end soon, he said.
The tainted trio will miss a practice game against Somerset in Taunton on Thursday (today) as they are in London for a crucial meeting with PCB and ICC officials and senior diplomats. The three are also unlikely to feature in the one-day series as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is under increasing pressure to drop them in the wake of the spot-fixing allegations.
Afridi, 30, said that their possible axing will be a huge setback for his team.
Salman, Amir and Asif are three of our key players, said Afridi, who returned to England last month to take over as Pakistans skipper for the Twenty20 and one-day games.
Already it was a tough assignment because England are a very strong team. It would become even more difficult for us if we are forced to play without them, he stressed.
But Afridi was quick to add that his players have the ability to put the scandal behind them and give their best in the series.
The boys are real fighters, he said. Theyve been under immense pressure over the last few days but we are regrouping pretty fast and are aiming to shine in the forthcoming series in spite of all odds, he said.
Our main task is to shift our focus completely on the upcoming one-day series. We are doing that and Im confident that the boys will be fully ready ahead of the series.
Afridi said that he and his boys want to play good cricket in order to put the team in the headlines for all the right reasons.
Its our aim to place our team and cricket itself in the limelight for all the right reasons, he said. We know that we can do that by playing good cricket. We have to play good cricket for the team, for our compatriots back home and for the crowds who will come to venues to watch the upcoming matches.
Pakistan lost the four-Test series against England 1-3 last week at Lords where the finale was overshadowed by the spot-fixing scandal.
Angry fans raised slogans against the accused players as they left Lords after crashing to their worst ever Test defeat last Sunday.
There are fears Pakistan might have to endure hostile crowds during the one-day series but Afridi is confident that Pakistan will give their fans plenty of reasons to cheer about during the Twenty20 and one-day games.
We are a good team in limited-overs matches and will go all out against England in the upcoming series, he promised.