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Gilani urges Pak team to show "best of sportsmanship and dedication to contest"

March 29, 2011 - Islamabad

Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Rehman Malik have separately talked to the national cricket team captain, Shahid Afridi, over the telephone, and wished the team success in the March 30 World Cup semi-final match against India.

"While accepting the invitation of the Indian prime minister to witness the match, it was in my heart to be present on the occasion to express solidarity with the players of the cricket team," The News quoted Gilani, as saying in a telephonic talk with Afridi.

The premier conveyed the sentiments and prayers of the whole nation for the success of the Pakistan team, and said: "Irrespective of the result, the team should demonstrate the best of sportsmanship and dedication to contest."

"Afridi assured the Prime Minister that each member of the team would put in his best performance for a favourable result," an official statement said.

Gilani's morale booster telephonic conversation with Afridi came after the statement of Interior Minister Rehman Malik that the Pakistani authorities would keep a close watch on Wednesday's semi-final to ensure that no fixing takes place.

Malik's warning was seen as 'demoralising', and drew severe criticism from all segments of the society and cricket experts.

In contrast, Gilani's telephonic call to Afridi was described by cricket fans as a positive gesture to boost the morale of the national players.

Expectations are high in the cricket-crazy region for a mouth-watering Indo-Pak encounter in the semi-final match on Wednesday in Mohali for a slot in the World Cup final match to be held at Mumbai on April 2.

India and Pakistan have not played in any bilateral series since the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. The Pakistan cricketers have also not played in the Indian Premier League since its first edition in early 2008.


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