Karachi: Flamboyant Pakistan allrounder Shahid Afridi has left for the United Arab Emirates with a plea to his team-mates to play as a united outfit against Australia during the one-day series starting on Tuesday.
Insisting that though the conditions in UAE would suit Pakistan more than the Australians, Afridi said still they would have to play well to beat the Australians who are always competitive at any level of cricket.
Afridi, who returned midway from the Sri Lankan Premier League to be with his ailing wife and then left for the UAE to join the national team, told reporters that Pakistan had a good chance of beating the Australians.
Pakistan take on Australia in first of the three ODIs at Sharjah on Tuesday.
"They are a world class side. But we have a good chance as we know the conditions better. All we need is to use our experience there to our advantage. We have a good Twenty20 side as well, and if we play with sincerity, we can win the series," he said.
The former skipper also said that the players' participation in SLPL will also prove to be helpful. "It's a different series but the participation kept the players in the loop. We just need to gel as a team."
The allrounder, however, admitted he was concerned about his own form and wanted to contribute with both bat and ball against Australia. "I'm aware that my performance is important and I'll hopefully live up to the expectations, because I know I have an important role to play as a senior member of the side."
The Pakistan squad, which has already assembled in the UAE, had so far avoided the morning and afternoon practice sessions due to the heat. Pakistan team manager Naved Akram Cheema said it was decided to avoid the day practice. "The heat is unbearable but the temperature gets better in the evening after which we start our practice."
Mohammad Akram, who was appointed as the national team bowling coach, has also joined the team in Sharjah in time for the first one-dayer.
Interestingly, while the Pakistani players reached Sharjah in batches after appearing in the SLPL, the Aussies have already been in the UAE since August 22nd getting used to the hot weather conditions and the late starts to the matches. They played a late-start match against Afghanistan on Saturday which they won comfortably.
A PCB official said that despite the hot weather and late start, they were expecting good crowds for the one-day and T20 matches. "The late starts were designed to make the weather bearable not only for the players but also for the spectators," he said.