Karachi: Pakistan's World Cup captain and coach believe an outstanding performance in the tournament will lead to the return of international cricket to the country and also redeem Pakistan's image in the cricket world.
Pakistan cricket has seen much drama recently, including security concerns at home, which have kept foreign teams away, bribery charges against players, dressing-room intrigues and a wicketkeeper fleeing the team hotel because of alleged threats.
"In the last two years, our isolation as an international cricket venue and the spot-fixing controversies have badly hurt us and affected our performances," coach Waqar Younis told a news conference in Lahore on Thursday.
"This World Cup is very important for us. To me as a former captain and coach, it has been a painful period. I honestly believe that this team has the potential to win the Cup and redeem Pakistan cricket in the eyes of the world."
At the 2007 World Cup, Pakistan's coach Bob Woolmer died in tragic circumstances and they suffered a humiliating loss to non-Test playing nation Ireland en route to a first-round exit.
However, manager Intikhab Alam felt things were on a more even keel now.
"I am confident this will be a controversy-free event for us," he said.
Waqar felt the team deserved a lot of credit for producing some fine performances since last year despite feeling the heat from the spot-fixing controversy.
"I am proud of these boys and Afridi has led them superbly and I know they have the potential to win this event. We have got the momentum going and it is just a matter of the team clicking at the right time.
"Since the tournament is being held in the subcontinent, I would say the sub-continental teams have a definite edge," he added.
Captain Afridi said it would be difficult to predict the outcome.
"We have the players to adjust to all sorts of conditions and pressure situations in the tournament. But at the end of the day, it is all about how you play. This is a long tournament and much will depend on how teams keep their momentum going, fit and motivated. This will be crucial," he said.
The Pakistan squad leaves later on Thursday for Bangladesh where they play two warm-up matches and then move onto Sri Lanka for their Group A matches in the February 19-April 2 event.