MOHALI

Shahid Afridi is aware that the situations surrounding him and his side are not the greatest. One loss and Pakistan are out of the tournament, and Afridi too will effectively retire from cricket. While Pakistan will be eager to turn things around, the fact that they face New Zealand, unbeaten in the 2016 World T20 till now, is not what they'd be wanting on their plate.

But it's going to happen Tuesday. Afridi has received more flak from Pakistan media after the side lost to India on Sunday. This, after his 'love from India' comment was blown out of proportion. Despite all that, Afridi, in his own way, remains a charmer. A wide smile on his face, body uptight, Afridi sat down and answered every question patiently.

"It happens, but people who get angry on us also love us," Afridi said in the pre-match press conference. "In the subcontinent, cricket is big. We have to take those things positively and perform, because they love us a lot and we should not mind if they say something. Even before the tournament started, people had written us off. I have stayed away from Twitter and Facebook; just kept myself on one side because I know how people are reacting back home.

"Whatever happens there is a thing for the future, but right now, all we can do is perform well. If you create a panic situation in the team, then it is difficult to sort out things. Miracles always don't work in cricket. We have to stop repeating small mistakes and play good cricket," added Afridi.

Speaking of mistakes, Pakistan erred in reading the surface at Eden Gardens. On a surface that surprisingly had ample spin and turn on offer, Pakistan went in with four fast bowlers when they had two specialist spin options in their ranks, both of whom were rested. Virat Kohli too didn't make things any easier for them. "A team wins because it makes lesser mistakes than the other. We made more mistakes, we did not read the pitch right and also lost the toss. If we had won the toss, we would have also bowled first because the conditions were overcast and the pitch was covered for most part of the day," Afridi said. "I won't give any excuses, but Virat Kohli was the biggest difference. In the Asia Cup too, he had single-handedly won the match. In the last match, India played well and won, but that's history now. For me, Tuesday's match is the most important and the team's focus is on that," he added.

Afridi was asked to talk about how Younus Khan was pilloried at the start of World T20 2009 before Pakistan turned it around. "This cricket has made not just Younis Khan but many others cry," Afridi said. "I have seen a lot of cricketers in tears. I have seen them leave because they can't take it anymore. I am thankful to God that I have played for Pakistan for this long."