Chief selector gives Afridi last chance
ISLAMABAD: Shahid Afridi has been handed a last chance to perform at international level with his selection on Wednesday for Pakistan’s one-day international cricket series in South Africa next month.
Afridi was recalled on Wednesday after being ignored for the one-day series against India in December. ”The South Africa tour is his last (chance) and he has to perform,” Pakistan chief selector Iqbal Qasim said.
Pakistan batsmen have been struggling on fast bouncy wickets in South Africa and are already trailing 2-0 in the three-match test series with the last test beginning at Centurion from Friday.
Qasim said it was not Afridi’s hard hitting but his legspin bowling which had kept the allrounder, eighth on the all-time list of ODI appearances, in mind. ”It’s five ODIs and you need variety in your bowling,” Qasim said. ”Based on his quality of right-arm legspin bowling, we have selected him.”
This month, Afridi led Pakistan A in a one-day series against Afghanistan, and Qasim said the selectors were satisfied with his fitness. He turns 33 on March 1. Afridi has played 349 one-dayers for an average of 23, plus 348 wickets.
The chief selector said he wanted to give ODI captain Misbah-ul-Haq enough bowling choice in the spin department after watching South African batsmen struggle against slow bowlers in the tests.
”I am not saying go and play him (Afridi) in the 11, my mind says we have to have some variety (in bowling). ”They (South Africans) are playing good against fast bowlers and we have seen if you have variety of spinners, it will give you benefit.”
Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal got 10 wickets in the second test, but still could not prevent Pakistan going down by four wickets as the fast bowlers could not make an impact on the Proteas.
Durban and Centurion will host the two Twenty20s on March 1 and 3 before the five-match ODI series begins at Bloemfontein on March 10.
Middle-order batsman Umar Akmal and fast bowler Wahab Riaz, who could not make it to the test team, were selected for both Twenty20s and ODIs. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was also overlooked for the test series but returns to replace Sarfraz Ahmed behind the stumps in the shorter formats.
Twenty20 squad: Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmad Shahzad, Umar Amin, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Zulfiqar Babar, Asad Ali, Junaid Khan.
ODI squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman.