Pakistan’s team management has decided to add lanky pacer Mohammad Irfan for the ODI series against Sri Lanka in order to add cutting edge to their bowling line-up.
Irfan was initially overlooked for both Test and one-day squads as he was injured during a domestic tournament while recovering from a hip injury sustained in 2013 against South Africa when he was overused by the team management.
The breakdown forced Irfan to miss out on the Asian Cup and World Twenty20, which left the player devastated and he then channelled all his energies to focus on the 2015 World Cup.
He has now recovered from the injury and feels that he is in right shape to play international cricket.
“I’m now 100% fit after the rehabilitation process and looking forward to play international cricket,” Irfan told The Express Tribune.
“It wasn’t easy to sit out with the injury and watch the team play. I always want to play and do well for Pakistan, which is why I’ve been itching to make a comeback. The selectors and team management has called me for the one-dayers against Sri Lanka and I’ll try to repay their faith.”
The seven-foot-one-inch tall fast-bowler has played 27 ODIs and has accounted for 39 batsmen. His last one-day stint was back in November 2013.
He also played in the matches of the Taqreebat-e-Azadi T20 Tournament, which has given him much-needed match practice and confidence.
Having undergone training tests in National Cricket Academy (NCA) that declared his form satisfactory, Irfan will be leaving for Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
“All the training tests I gave at the NCA have turned up positive results, indicating that I have regained fitness after that hip injury. Moreover, I felt really well while bowling in the Taqreebat-e-Azadi T20 Tournament.”
There have been reports that Irfan has been called up as a cover for Junaid Khan, who got injured in the second Test after being hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Sri Lanka’s Dhaminka Prasad.
Junaid was then unable to bowl in the second innings against Sri Lanka. However, it has been learnt that the fast-bowler has recovered and is likely to be fit by the time first one-dayer will be played on August 23.
“So far, Junaid has been recovering well and is keen to play the first ODI as well,” said a PCB official. “There is still time left so hopefully he’ll be ready by August 23.”
After losing the Test series 2-0 against Sri Lanka, Pakistan have welcomed several changes in the squad for the 50-over series.
Apart from Irfan, Pakistan will have services of world-class all-rounders Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Anwar Ali, Fawad Alam, Sohaib Maqsood and Sharjeel Khan.
Before the first ODI, Pakistan will also play a warm-up match against SL BP XI on August 20.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2014.
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