Around eight Pakistani players, including star all-rounder Shahid Afridi, had been fined $300 each after arriving 45 minutes late back to the team’s hotel following dinner last Sunday.
The incident has taken some of the gloss off Pakistan’s build-up to tomorrow’s huge Pool B clash with India. Pakistan has beaten Bangladesh and England in official warm-up matches in Sydney.
However the team’s preparations also included a night out in Sydney which dragged on, with players arriving 45 minutes late back to the team’s hotel following dinner last Sunday.
The players have already apologised, and Afridi knows the only way he can make up for the misstep is by performing on the field on Sunday.
“It’s a big responsibility as a senior player, I’ve played a lot of cricket for Pakistan,” Afridi said. “This is not the time to give up, this is the time to give something to our country. “This is not my time to make my place in the team, this is the time to get something from my performance.
“You can’t play cricket without enjoyment, so I’m enjoying myself. “Playing in Australia is always a great occasion for me. I have experience here. “I’d love to be one of the big hitters … I’m positive.”
Team manager Moin Khan wouldn’t comment on the incident that led to the player fines. “I don’t know anything about that,” he told reporters yesterday.
Moin is adamant his team is in the right frame of mind for tomorrow’s blockbuster. “It’s the highest form of pressure always, Pakistan against India matches,” Moin said. “Whoever handles pressure nicely, they perform and they win the game. If they cope well with the pressure then I am really confident they can beat India.”
India holds a five-nil advantage over Pakistan in World Cup matches ahead of the sold-out clash.
Moin says Sunday’s game, to be played before a crowd of about 47,000, could help decide the length of players’ careers.
The last time the two sides met in a World Cup match was the 2011 semi-final in Mohali which India won by 29 runs.
“This is a lifetime opportunity for them,” said Moin, who played in Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup-winning side at the MCG against England.
“An India-Pakistan match, it can prolong your career. It’s going to be an opportunity for them to make history and they can be the team who can break that momentum.”
Moin says it’s hard to compare the 2011 semi-final with tomorrow’s battle.
“Whenever we play India in India, it’s something different. You play against all odds,” he said.
“(In 2011) the whole support was with India there. But here, it’s going to be a balanced crowd and hopefully fun for the players as well,” he added.
Moin says players must control their tempers and not dwell on the bitter rivalry between the two nations. “Whenever we are playing against India, the things are there in their minds,” Moin said.
“You have to concentrate on the game.the rivalry is very long, but it’s always in the mind’’. “When I used to play (the rivalry) didn’t come in my words. We always tried to just perform well,’’ suggested Moin.
“My team is working really hard and they are clicking at the right time in the two practice matches. The pressure is all about how you handle it. If you really think it is pressure then you can’t perform well,’’ maintains Moin.
Nevertheless let’s just hope that the spirits of our players are up and they can muster enough strength to beat the best of the best in this competition.