Team must share Afridis burden: Misbah

Pallekele: Pakistan vice-captain Misbah-ul-Haq on Monday urged his teammates to share skipper Shahid Afridi`s burden, who has almost single-handedly guided the team to victory in all the three matches it had played so far in the World Cup.

Pakistan would take on New Zealand in a group B match here tomorrow and Misbah asked his side to be ready to take the pressure off Afridi, who has taken 14 wickets from three matches so far in the tournament, winning two man-of-the-match awards.

Afridi took 5-16 against Kenya before following that up with 4-34 against Sri Lanka and 5-23 against Canada to help his side garner a perfect six points from three matches and top Group A.

"It`s really very good for a team that its captain is doing well, but other players are also required to play well, take responsibility and ease pressure off the captain," said Misbah.

"I think in all conditions, especially here, Afridi is a difficult bowler to handle, he has got variation and doesn`t give the batsmen time. With that kind of aggression he has led from the front," he added.

The 35-year-old Misbah, who scored 203 runs at an average of 67.66 in the recently concluded New Zealand series which helped Pakistan secure the series 3-2, has scores of 63, 83 and 37 in the three World Cup matches till now.

And that makes him one of the prime targets for New Zealand bowlers as pointed by Kiwi pacer Tim Southee last evening. But when but Misbah was asked about it, he remained unfazed.

"They just can`t target me, because before me there are three or four batsmen who can get hundreds. They can`t wait for me only. We are playing with six batsmen so every batsman is important.

"I think we will be looking for the top order to get some runs because they did well in New Zealand so we`re hoping they are going to do it again."

Misbah also felt that Pakistan are not making the most of its batting powerplays and said that the batsmen needs to take powerplays more seriously against New Zealand.

Against Sri Lanka and Canada, there was a sharp dip in Pakistan`s scoring rate during powerplays when fielding restrictions were in place.

"We need to have a plan for the powerplays. Hopefully we will have that against New Zealand tomorrow," he said.

Another worrying factor for Pakistan has been the poor form of openers Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shahzad, who failed to get decent starts in all their three matches.

"We have confidence in our openers. One or two games you see failures of the top order but it doesn`t matter, it happens in cricket. That they are not making runs doesn`t put pressure on us," said the prolific batsman.

About the wicket at Pallekele stadium, which looked to have some grass and bounce, Misbah said, "Of course it will be tough as we don`t have stats of this ground and how it will behave especially under lights.

"But you have to handle these things as professionals and handle them properly."