Pakistan’s star all-rounder Shahid Afridi received a glimmer of hope from captain Misbah-ul-Haq, days after being dropped from the ODI side for the series against India.
There was mixed reaction to Afridi’s exclusion from the 15-man ODI squad, with many fans welcoming the decision to do away with the ‘non-performing star’ while former players criticised the move.
Misbah, in an interview that also featured T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez, however, left the door open for Afridi’s return to the ODI squad, provided he performed in the two T20 matches against India that precede the ODIs.
“Dropping Afridi wasn’t an easy decision. But if he performs in the T20s, he will be retained for the ODIs,” Misbah said.
The embattled Afridi will have an added incentive to perform well in the T20s after Chief Selector Iqbal Qasim also hinted that the player could make a comeback in the ODI squad.
“Shahid is a very experienced player and we felt the time now was to give him a chance to focus on the two T20 matches as his form has not been consistent in the ODI matches,” Qasim said.
Afridi has been in torrid form of late, highlighted at the recent World Twenty20. He made only 30 runs in six matches, and picked up four wickets at 42.75. In ODIs this year, he has scored 182 runs in 16 matches and taken 15 wickets at 43.13
While answering questions about team selection for the India tour, T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez also offered a lifeline to another veteran all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, who did not make the cut for both the T20 and ODI squads.
Of their upcoming challenge in India, Hafeez said he wanted his players to play their natural, attacking game and pinpointed Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag and Ravichandran Ashwin as the biggest threat on the opposition side.
The series, the first between the neighbours in five years, features two T20s and three ODIs beginning at Bangalore on December 25.