Pakistan announced a 15-man squad for the World Cup as former captain Mohammad Yousuf got the axe from the showpiece event that starts on February 19. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), however, is yet to name the captain for the tournament to be jointly-hosted by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
While all-rounder Shahid Afridi retained the limited-overs captaincy for the One-Day Internationals (ODI) against New Zealand that start on January 22, the PCB is still mulling over the final choice for the World Cup as it announced the squad.
Afridi was unperturbed over the captaincy issue and said that he was focusing on the immediate task ahead of him — the ODI series against New Zealand. “I have never run after the captaincy. It is something for the cricket board to decide,” Afridi had said before his departure for the six-match series.
“If they feel I am good enough to lead the team in the World Cup they will retain me. If not, that is life.”
The PCB retained the same squad that was named for the ODIs against New Zealand except for bowler Tanvir Ahmed.
Former selectors give thumbs-up
Meanwhile, former chief selector Iqbal Qasim called the World Cup squad a “balanced side” and was not surprised with Yousuf’s exclusion.
“It is a balanced side,” said Qasim. “It was hard to make way for Yousuf with Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan enjoying good form.”
Qasim also supported Ahmed’s exclusion from the team, saying that left-arm fast-bowler Sohail Tanvir has been rightly preferred over the newcomer.
‘My career is not over’
Seasoned batsman Yousuf, however, remained optimistic after the World Cup snub and remained hopeful of a comeback to the national team. “My career is not over,” Yousuf told The Express Tribune after the squad’s announcement. “Naturally it’s disappointing but I don’t want to criticise anybody on my exclusion.”
Yousuf, who is currently leading Lahore Lions in the ongoing One-Day National Cup, dismissed concerns on his fitness. The former captain, who has played 288 ODIs with the last appearance coming against South Africa in the UAE in November, added that he proved his form and fitness after returning to Pakistan.
“I don’t have any fitness problems which can be witnessed in the ongoing tournament,” said the veteran batsman who scored 81 runs in Lions’ 222-run win over Hyderabad Hawks in Karachi yesterday.
Shahid Afridi, Misbahul Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Younus Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir, Ahmed Shahzad
“The team announcement of such a big event through a media release is inappropriate. If the selection committee chose players without any discrimination, it should have faced the media and answered the questions.”
“Yousuf’s exclusion is justified because he was less required after successful comebacks by Misbah and Younus. But I don’t understand why the PCB did not name the captain. It is damaging for the players.”
“It is a balanced side. It was hard to pave way for Yousuf with Misbah and Younus enjoying good form. The exclusion of fast-bower Tanvir Ahmed is also understandable because Sohail Tanvir is more experienced.”
“The team is perfectly balanced. Selectors have opted for a combination of youth and experience. This forms a good combination and these players have the ability to lift the World Cup.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2011.