Afridi rubbishes reports of rift amongst players

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Lahore, Jun 17: Dismissing reports of rift within the team, all-rounder Shahid Afridi said the Pakistan players were united as ever and have no ill feelings against skipper Shoaib Malik or coach Geoff Lawson.

Earlier, just before the tri-series final in Bangladesh, media reports suggested that a section of the team was unhappy with Malik and Lawson which prompted the PCB chief Dr Nasim Ashraf to hold talks with players on the issue. ''There are no groupings in the team. Such stories are not correct, Afridi said. ''The chairman met us to buck us up and reminded us of our duties and responsibilities as senior players of the side,'' he added. On the eve of the final match between India and Pakistan in Dhaka on Friday, Ashraf met with senior players - Afridi, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan - separately and then with Lawson and Malik.

Afridi revealed that he himself had advised Malik to meet with the players after the humiliating 140-run defeat in league match against India.

''The idea was for the players to talk out and exchange notes to create a stronger bonding.

''We know that if the team wins then it is good news for the entire nation. After the way we lost to India we were all disappointed and we wanted to fightback,'' he said.

Team Manager Talat Ali, who was sent a letter by Ashraf before the final match, endorsed Afridi's comments and said the board chairman had announced a cash prize of Rs one million for every player after the win in the final which was Pakistan's first in a major tournament after five years.

UNI

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