Shahid Afridi: Pakistan capable of winning against any team at the Cricket World Cup 2019

Former Pakistan captain was speaking in Abu Dhabi on Friday as an ambassador of the inaugural Happiness Sim Cricket Sixes tournament

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Shahid Afridi, Pakistani all-rounder and former  captain of the Pakistan national cricket team at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

Shahid Afridi says Pakistan are capable of beating any team at the Cricket World Cup 2019.

The 50-over tournament gets under way on May 30 with Pakistan looking to add to their lone success in 1992 when the tournament was also held in England.

“Pakistan is capable of winning against any team,” said Afridi, the former Pakistan all-rounder and captain. “Mickey Arthur [Pakistan coach] has worked really hard with the boys. As a player, I’m confident that they will do well at the World Cup."

Afridi, who was in Abu Dhabi on Friday alongside former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee as ambassadors of the inaugural Happiness Sim Cricket Sixes tournament, pointed to the form of openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq as reasons for believing Pakistan can go all the way.

“We have some players who can do very well in England. We have capable openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq and they go into the World Cup in good form,” he said.

Afridi said he also expects Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam to play big roles for Pakistan, who begin their World Cup engagements with against West Indies in Nottingham on May 31. “Bowling has always been our strength so nothing to worry in that department,” he said.

Pakistan's recent form in one-dayers contrasts somewhat markedly against Afridi's upbeat assessment of the team's chances in England and Wales.

Arthur's side were on the end of a 5-0 whitewash to Australia in the UAE in March. But Afridi, who played in 398 ODI’s for Pakistan, scoring 8,064 runs and taking 395 wickets during a glittering career, said the series defeat in the Emirates was an opportunity to rest some of the team's mainstays and test some of the young players and would have little bearing on their World Cup preparations.

“We will be playing some warm-up matches in England and that would be enough to adapt to the English conditions and for the competition,” he said.

“Personally I felt making so many changes wasn’t a good idea but that decision was made by selection committee. Anyway, that’s behind us and what’s important is to look ahead.”

Afridi was a member of the Pakistan team that lost the final to Australia in the 1999 World Cup in England.

“That was my first World Cup and that’s what I would remember it for, although losing in the final was a disappointment,” he said.

“I was playing under Wasim Akram and that was special too. I think we played very well but we lost in the final. Looking back, I think the decision to bat first wasn’t right in the rainy conditions in England.”

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Shahid Afridi, Pakistani all-rounder and former  captain of the Pakistan national cricket team at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

New Shahid Afridi book to reveal reasons for lying about his age

Shahid Afridi has said he would reveal the reason behind disclosing his real age during the launch of his autobiography Game Changer in Karachi on Saturday.

The former Pakistan captain wrote that he was born in 1975, without mentioning the date and month, which makes him five years older than official records which state his date of birth as March 1, 1980.

“That’s a question everyone wants to know, but everyone will have to wait until the book launch tomorrow,” Afridi said when asked why he had to do it at this point.