Sports Min backs Afridi to lead Pak in World Cup

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Karachi, Feb 2 (PTI) Pakistan Sports Minister IjazHussain Jakhrani believes that flamboyant all-rounder ShahidAfridi is the best man to lead Pakistan in the forthcomingCricket World Cup in the sub-continent.

Jakhrani threw his weight behind Afridi while speaking tothe media here, insisting that the all-rounder had thecapability to inspire the team to win the mega event.

"I would tell the Pakistan Cricket Board don''t change thecaptain now and stick with Afridi. He is experienced and he isleading the team. There is no reason to change him now beforethe World Cup," Jakhrani said.

PCB is due to name the World Cup captain on February 4when the team would be busy playing the one-day series in NewZealand.

Jakhrani said that the team had been performing well inNew Zealand which was a good sign for the World Cup.

"I think Afridi now has the confidence and maturity tolead the team well in the World Cup," he added.

The minister also said that the cash awards announced forthe medal winners in last year''s Asian Games would bedistributed tomorrow.

"The athletes who won the hockey gold medal and medals insnooker, wushu, squash and kabbadi will get their cash awardsas the government had promised earlier," he said.

The distribution of the cash rewards among Asian Gamesathletes has been delayed although the announcement was madein late November.

The delay has caused resentment among the hockey playersand other athletes who were apprehensive that the governmentwould not fulfill its promise.

The cash awards range from 0.5 to five million rupees forthe medal winning athletes.

The delay had also raised concerns that some of hockeyplayers would eventually be forced to opt for the lucrativeWorld Hockey Series being planned by Indian Hockey Federationlater this year though the International Hockey Federation hasrefused to recognise it.

In a bid to promote hockey in the country, the PrimeMinister recently announced a special grant of 12 millionrupees for Pakistan Hockey Federation which would also begiven tomorrow by Jakhrani.

"It is a good sign that the cash awards are being givenbecause this would only serve as incentive to the players todo better in other international events," Pakistan hockeycaptain Zeeshan Ashraf said.

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