Karachi: After two versions of official explanation emerged on Pakistan's limited overs captain Shahid Afridi's failure to leave along with the national team for the tour of the West Indies on Thursday, the skipper clarified that a personal reason had prevented him from boarding the flight.
When Afridi did not leave for the West Indies along with the rest of the Pakistani squad from Lahore, it raised a lot of eyebrows over the real reason for his delayed departure and the official explanation also did not help the cause as two different versions cropped up.
While the first version said that he had forgotten his passport in Karachi, the other version said he had requested to leave later as he wanted to return to Karachi from Lahore to meet with his father who is not keeping well.
The flamboyant allrounder however, insisted that there was nothing fishy behind his late departure.
"I had some personal work to take care of and that is why I am leaving now," Afridi told the media before departing for Dubai at the Karachi airport, today afternoon.
Afridi's failure to also attend the last day of the training camp in Lahore yesterday, had also raised questions. But the skipper explained that he was leaving with a clear mind to win the series in the West Indies and also make an impact with his batting.
"I realise that our batting is an area of concern and it is also my responsibility as captain to contribute with the bat. In the coming series my main emphasis will be on my batting and I want to score some runs," said Afridi, who finished with 21 wickets in the recently-concluded World Cup but he flopped with the bat.
Pakistan will play a Twenty20 International and five-match ODI series under Shahid Afridi's captaincy, while two Test-match series under Misbah-ul-Haq.
Afridi said the West Indies tour was a very good opportunity for the five uncapped players in the side and the other youngsters to perform well and make a mark.
"This series is the start of our preparations for next year's T20 World Cup and I think this tour is a good platform for the new players to show that they can succeed at the international level," he said.
The national selectors have picked uncapped wicketkeeper, Muhammad Salman, batsman Usman Salahuddin, pacers Junaid Khan and Sadaf Hussain and allrounder Hammad Azam in the team. Though Azam and Junaid have toured with the senior team before, but are yet to play any match.
Afridi also said that other youngsters in Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz must also continue their progress at the top level.
"I think as a team we all have to realise our responsibilities to deliver for the country and this series will give us a good opportunity to start afresh and prepare for the upcoming events," he said.
Earlier on the day, before the team's departure for the West Indies, team manager Intikhab Alam told the media that he was hopeful of a good performance by the team.
"I am hopeful the young cricketers who have been picked in the side will perform well and Inshallah help us to win the series against West Indies," said Alam.