Afridi ahead with the current issues

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  • Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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  • Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's one-day captain, says his team is looking forward to getting back to cricket after four days of being in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Pakistan play Somerset in Taunton on Thursday in their first game since the spot-fixing controversy broke.

    "We had a very good practice session yesterday [Tuesday]," he said at Somerset's County Ground. "What has happened has gone. We are here to play good cricket. It's a big challenge for me personally, playing in English conditions is always difficult.
    "Myself and the coach [Waqar Younis] are trying to keep morale high. It's always very difficult in these conditions against a good team but they are all really focused."
    Three members of the squad - Test captain Salman Butt, and fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - have left for London, where they are due to meet top administrative and diplomatic officials on Thursday.
    Afridi, who resigned the Test captaincy after Pakistan's 150-run loss against Australia in July, joined the squad after the Lord's Test, which ended in controversy a day after the News of the World broke its spot-fixing story. . The rest of the tour - a mix of Twenty20s and ODIs - is in some doubt but Afridi insisted his players would be able to put the furore to one side and concentrate on the task at hand when they faced Somerset. "We are all looking forward to it. It has been really difficult but we can forget everything, get out, play the cricket and entertain the people."
    There were protests outside Pakistan's hotel in London but there were none at their Taunton hotel and the Somerset chief executive Richard Gould was confident Thursday's match would pass off without spectator unrest.
    "We are not anticipating anything of that order," Gould told reporters. "We've got a really good family atmosphere generally in the ground and I think that's going to be all-pervading tomorrow (Thursday).
    "I suspect there might be a little bit of humour thrown in, with a few comments, but we won't let anything go beyond light-hearted banter."

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