Mohali: The speculation of groupism in Pakistan team does hamper its progress but senior all-rounder Shoaib Malik on Thursday insisted that the side has what it takes to beat the odds given that it had won the 2009 World Twenty20 despite half a dozen players not being on talking terms.
Malik, putting up a brave face in the wake of Pakistan's ordinary show so far in the tournament, said this negative talk of groupism only surfaces when the team loses.
"It is because of this speculation on groupism, we are not able to build a team. We are not able to get the consistency. When the team loses, there is pressure put on lots of people (stakeholders) and changes happen in the team," Malik said in the pre-match press conference.
"To me, all this speculation is baseless. Just to add to that, I want to say that six of us were not talking during the World T20 in 2009 but we still managed to win the title," a defiant Malik said on the eve of Pakistan's must-win match for both teams.
Pakistan, whose semifinal hopes hang by a thread after two losses from three games, were hit by another controversy in the middle of the tournament with a government minister claiming that groupism and politics were rife in the team.
The fact-finding committee of the PCB will probe these allegations post the tournament. Besides, PCB chief Shahryar Khan declared midway into the event that captain Shahid Afridi will be removed after the World T20.
Talking about the problems facing Pakistan cricket, Malik said the team has the talent but lacks consistency. Despite the on and off-field troubles, he asserted that the side is looking to win against Australia to have any chance of making the semis.
"It is not about a game or two. It has been the process followed from the last one and a half years. If you look at the Pakistan performance in the World T20 and compare with other teams, you will see that all the matches have been fought closely.
"Of course we have to take responsibility (when the team loses) and all players know that. We have certain areas where we need to improve. PSL has just started. After two-three years you will get to see the league giving cricketers to the national side," said the 34-year-old.
There is hardly a dull moment when a Pakistani cricketer turns up for media interaction and it was no different in Malik's case at the IS Bindra Stadium here.
One of the Pakistani reporters travelling with the team asked him that "how does it feel to be not performing when his wife Sania Mirza is doing well on the tennis court". Rather than avoiding his question, Malik came up with a fitting reply.
"I don't feel like answering your question but since you have come so far from Pakistan, I will answer. Boundaries (in the last game against New Zealand) came only twice or thrice after the first six overs. There are batsmen who need a bit of time to hit the big shots."
"Ever since I have made a comeback, I think I have been the top scorer. My average is around 35 in this format so you would not have asked me this if you did your homework.
However, I still respect you," Malik said.
Insisting that all is well between him and his captain, Malik said the team wants to do well for Afridi who is likely to retire post the world event.
"Shoaib Malik is the same guy who left captaincy in PSL. He is the same cricketer who left Test cricket for youngsters. We all know that it is lala's (Afridi) last World Cup. I respect him the way I respect Inzaman bhai, Wasim (Akram) bhai and Waqar (Younis) bhai and all these cricketers. He is like an elder brother and I have learnt a lot from him," he said.
"Nobody will be happier if we do well for him in the World Cup. When you lose there is bound to speculation. All this talk is baseless, useless. We are one a as a team and we will try to win," he said.
On coach Waqar saying that the team doesn't deserve to be in the semifinals, Malik said: "when the team loses, even a wise person makes statement like these. All I can say is that we will give our hundred percent tomorrow and we are looking to win".
Malik has made several comebacks into the national side. So while talking about his future, Mailk said he is committed to carry on till the 2019 50-over World Cup.
"I want to play till the 2019 World Cup and after that whatever the almighty has in store for me."
Asked compare the winning squad of 2009 with the current lot in India, Malik said: "Skill wise this team is much better but professionalism wise the 2009 team was better."
He further revealed that team was following India's match against Bangladesh closely. "We wanted Bangladesh to win. Not because we don't like India but because we want to see ourselves in the tournament."...