“Ahmed Shehzad wasn’t needed in the playing 11” – Are you sure, Haroon Rasheed?
Ahmed Shehzad – also called Pakistan’s Virat Kohli (minus a little talent and Anushka Sharma by the side of course – is young, stylish and confident, to the extent of even being cocky at times. He’s a selfie addict and is also considered as Boom Boom Afridi’s best buddy in the side.
Apart from all that is said, Ahmed Shehzad is Pakistan’s 216th international Test and 172nd ODI player. In terms of ODIs specifically, Shehzad is the third highest run-scorer for Pakistan in the last 12 months after Muhammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali. In T20’s, he’s been the highest run-scorer in the last 12 months for Pakistan, making 200 runs in eight innings with one out of the only four 50s scored by Pakistani players during that time. Combining all three formats of the game in international cricket, Shehzad is the fifth highest run-scorer for Pakistan in the last one year.
His ODI career average is better than Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfaraz Ahmed and even the freshly retired Younus Khan. In the UAE ODI series, he averages better than Misbahul Haq, Azhar, Sarfaraz, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal and Younus.
By the way, Shehzad’s average in ODIs over the last one year is just two runs less than Kohli over the same period.
Despite his extraordinary records, the selfie king from Lahore was not included in the final 11 in three out of the four ODI matches against England in UAE in the recently concluded series which Pakistan lost. Even though the reports state that Shehzad was excluded due to his behaviour with head coach Waqar Younis and the rest of the team, chief selector Haroon Rasheed discarded the said speculations, stating that Shehzad was excluded as he merely wasn’t required in the playing 11 and will be included whenever the team needs him.
A player of his talent wasn’t required – One simply cannot fathom that decision.
Was Mr Rasheed happy with the mediocre performance the team put forward, especially in the second and third ODI? Or was Pakistan’s track record of winning ODI series in the UAE so great that they could risk experimenting with such exclusions?
Furthermore, the chosen 11 was a bizarre combination to begin with. The team management was content with opening the innings with Azhar Ali (who made a total of 82 runs in four innings) along with Bilal Asif and Babar Azam over the first three games, and two wicketkeepers.
I am not advocating the possibility that Shehzad could’ve surely helped Pakistan win the ODI series against England single-handedly had he played in all the games, but the fact remains that having a player like Shehzad in the pool and not giving him consistent chances to play is only going to cost Pakistan in the long run.
Given that Shehzad is no AB de Villiers or even Kohli for that matter, but neither Villiers nor Kohli became what they are today without getting consistent support from their teams’ management and chances to play for their side.