Onus is on Afridi to show maturity and lead from front: Abbas

Karachi, Feb 14 (PTI) Former Pakistan captain ZaheerAbbas reckons that the batsmen will have to fire consistently,and skipper Shahid Afridi will have to lead from the front, ifthe team harbours hopes of reaching the last four stage of theWorld Cup.

Reviewing Pakistan''s batting line-up, Abbas said thatAfridi needs to shed his "boom boom" tag and bat moreconsistently and sensibly.

"The World Cup is taking place in the sub-continent, sobatting will play a key part in how Pakistan fare in thisevent," Abbas said.

Asked about Afridi, Abbas, without any hesitation, saidthat he has never regarded the pathan as a specialist batsman.

"He''s a hitter. Some have opined that if he''s pushed upthe order, with the added responsibility of captaincy, Afridiwould do better. However, I''m averse to this idea," he said.

"He can''t control his natural instincts. He has neverbeen able to do that in his career. Moreover, Afridi was afailure with the bat in all his three previous World Cupappearances. He did hit a wonderful century in Sri Lankaagainst the hosts in last year''s Asia Cup but remainsinconsistent as ever.

"Even as a hitter, I rate Abdul Razzaq higher than him interms of reliability," he said.

The former captain hoped that Afridi bats with lot moreresponsibility during the mega event.

"He asked for the captaincy and got it. Now the onus ison him to show maturity and, for once, plan innings as permatch situation. A captain has to lead from the front, and ourbatting is inexperienced compared to most teams," he noted.

On the opening pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad,he felt they had performed reasonably well in New Zealand.

"Shehzad is quite raw and inexperienced but remainstalented and has an array of strokes at his disposal. However,whether he stands tall at the biggest stage in world cricketremains to be seen. If he manages a big innings early in thetournament, I believe he should have a good World Cup."

As for Hafeez Abbas observed that he has been around forquite some time without cementing his place in the team.

"However, his batting, of late, has shown increasedconsistency and maturity. The duo is definitely not an idealchoice for Pakistan but, in my opinion, the best among theavailable lot."

Abbas said the under-fire Umar Akmal might not haveperformed very well recently but he is capable of coming goodin the tournament.

"He''s now a senior player and has an excellentstrike-rate. We need experience and class in the middle-orderand that is where he can help."

He said the way Misbah ul Haq batted in New Zealandshould be a lesson to all the other batsmen.

"He clearly demonstrated that even in ODIs, it isimportant that at least one batsman should strive to stay aslong as possible. Hope the rest learn from him." PTI Corr AH

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