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14 March, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Afridi brushes off India security concerns

AFP
Afridi brushes off India security concerns
Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi gestures as he addresses media representatives at a press conference at The Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata yesterday, ahead of the World T20 cricket tournament. AFP PHOTO

AFP, KOLKATA: Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi on Sunday brushed off concerns over security for his team at the World T20, saying he was looking forward to playing in front of India's raucous crowds.
The 36-year-old said his team had always been "physically and mentally" prepared for the tournament despite weeks of uncertainty over whether they would be allowed to travel to arch rivals India, hosts of the World T20.
Pakistan only announced on Friday it was sending the national team after receiving assurances from India following negotiations with its neighbour over security arrangements.
“We are cricketers and not politicians,” Afridi told a press conference in Kolkata.
“We have always enjoyed playing in India and have been loved by Indians crowds more than crowds back home in Pakistan. Cricket has always brought people together and I think politics should be kept away from cricket.”
In his first comments since arriving with the team on Saturday night, Afridi said they were confident of success in their first outing against an unknown qualifier on Wednesday and the much-anticipated showdown against India on Saturday.
India switched the venue for the March 19 showdown from the northern hill station of Dharamsala to Kolkata after Pakistan's concerns over threats from Hindu extremists and warnings of street protests.
Diplomatic tensions between the two countries have meant that the two teams have not played any bilateral series for more than three years, and their rivalry is restricted to multi-national tournaments such as the World T20.
Afridi said he expected a strong performance from Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir, who is returning from a five-year spot-fixing ban.
“Amir is a top international bowler and he has given great performances recently,” he said.
Despite being confident of his team's chances, Afridi said India were playing "very good cricket" at the moment and would be tough to beat in front of their home crowds.
He singled out “great performances” from Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh during Pakistan's loss to their archrivals at the recent Asia Cup in Dhaka.
PTI adds: Afridi and senior all-rounder Shoaib Malik played down the intense media focus on Pakistan’s security.
“I’ve not enjoyed playing anywhere as much as I have in India. I am in the last stage of my career and I can say that the love I have got in India is something that I will always remember. We have not got this much love even from Pakistan,” Afridi said.
“There are cricket-loving people here, much like in Pakistan. Overall, I’ve enjoyed a lot playing in India in my cricketing career,” he added.
Echoing Afridi’s sentiment, Malik, who is married to Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, said he feels honoured to be in India.
“Firstly I would like to thank the Indian Government. The security is very good. My wife is from India and I come to India a lot. I have never faced any security issue,” Malik said.
“I don’t really see any difference between Pakistani people and the Indians. We eat the same food, we speak the same language. I don’t really see any difference. I am very happy to be in India. I have always got a lot of love from people and from media. I’m honoured to be in India,” he added.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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