CARDIFF: Pakistan Twenty20 and one-day international captain Shahid Afridi says he was very happy with the way his side played in the first T20 defeat to England.
Pakistan today will take England in second Twenty20 match today at Cardiff with a squad likely to have Muhammed Hafeez.
The world champions beat Pakistan by five wickets but Afridi says there was a lot to take from the display after a very poor week for Pakistani cricket. With key players missing the Pakistani side were always going to struggle against an on-form England.
The performance is positive for Pakistan because they could have very easily crumbled and given England a much easier match. However, the bowling attack tried very hard to defend a small total and this allowed cricket to eradicate talk of many off-field problems.
Pakistan played well in a few areas during the defeat by England and the performance has allowed many members of the side to move on from recent talk of match fixing. However, with important players missing it could be a while before Afridi's men secure a win.
There are many reasons for optimism if you are a Pakistan fan. Some fresh faces came into the team and at the top of the batting order. Although these fresh faces did not score many runs, they played with smiles on their faces and looked to give England a new headache to worry about.
Pakistan were all over England in the field like a rash. England went from 42-1 to 62-5 in no time at all and it looked as though Pakistan may win the game if a partnership between Michael Yardy and Eoin Morgan had not developed.
Another encouraging aspect was that all of the players in the Pakistan team did not look as though their minds were on other things. It would have been easy to let their mentalities wander because of the betting scandal that has just broken out over Pakistan's cricket.
Afridi said: "The way my boys played, I am very happy. At one time it looked like we were going to win this game, but Morgan and Yardy played very well. We missed some opportunities, like catches and run-outs. So next time I hope we will avail these opportunities. In this kind of cricket, fielding is a main weapon if you want to win."
The players missing from the Pakistan team because of the match fixing row would all have taken their place in the side for T20 and one-day international cricket. Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt are all quality players who would have a huge role to play in the team.
When you take those three players out of the equation than it is easy to see why Pakistan will suffer and lose many more games than they will win. This means it could be a while before Pakistan stops suffering at the hands of England.
Afridi added: "We have to play cricket. After what has been going on for a week or 10 days, it's been very difficult. But this is my job and the coach's job, to lift the morale and keep the guys in high spirits. I'm happy that the guys responded well to what has been a difficult week."