Despite a disappointing season and calls to exclude him from the side due to poor form, the selection committee has backed all-rounder Shahid Afridi after Pakistan went down in the One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia.
Afridi, who developed injury issues during the three-match series that sidelined him from the second ODI and the opening Twenty20 against Australia that started yesterday, managed just seven runs in two outings and claimed a solitary wicket, triggering questions over his future.
However, a selector has backed the former captain, saying the senior all-rounder has the ability to regain his form.
“Afridi is a god-gifted player,” the selector told The Express Tribune. “We’re not bothered by his form. He’s the kind of player who has the ability to bounce back and hopefully he’ll do that soon.”
However, the selection committee member said that Afridi should have opted to rest in the final ODI.
Meanwhile, the official was not impressed with Kamran Akmal’s performance who was preferred over the young Sarfraz Ahmed due to his batting credentials.
Kamran, who was impressive during the Sri Lankan Premier League as he managed a tally of 203 runs in five games for Wayamba United, made just six runs in two innings for Pakistan besides missing a stumping in the final ODI that Pakistan lost by three wickets.
“One has to take certain factors into consideration before saying that he performed poorly. But it’s not an excuse for his ordinary batting performance.
“Kamran must improve his batting because he was chosen over Sarfraz to strengthen the batting line-up. We expected a good performance from him,” said the official before adding that the wicket-keeper’s future could not be ascertained on the basis of a single series.
Meanwhile, the selector said the middle-order batsmen and poor fielding were to be blamed for the series defeat.
“Our middle-order failed to capitalise on good starts and the fielders missed vital opportunities. We were beaten because of our own mistakes otherwise it was a perfect opportunity to win the series.” However, the selector also counted a few positives.
“Nasir Jamshed was the biggest positive and the way [Mohammad] Hafeez regained his batting form was also good news. Junaid Khan also showed that a bright future lies ahead of him and justified his selection.
“Our spinners especially Saeed Ajmal showed top form and he once again proved his mettle.”
“Barring a couple of batsmen, our middle-order did not play well. We missed catches and it’s the coach’s job to guide players who are repeating the mistakes.”
“Our lower-order is not contributing, which is essential. We needed 30 to 40 from the lower order and that is why we kept Kamran Akmal and Shahid Afridi in the lower order.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.