Shahid Afridi has been rewarded for his return to form in the Patron’s Trophy with a spot back in the Pakistan team for the fourth one-dayer against the West Indies to be played tomorrow (Wednesday) in Multan under floodlights, writes Khalid Hussain.
Chief selector Wasim Bari told ‘The News’ on Monday that Afridi has been included in the Pakistan squad for the Multan One-day International (ODI) in place of Mohammad Yousuf, who would miss the match because of personal reasons.
Also back in the squad is middle-order batsman Faisal Iqbal, who has been drafted in the side as a back-up for injured Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq. “We have included Afridi and Faisal in the squad for the fourth one-dayer because of Yousuf’s unavailability and Inzamam’s injury,” Bari said.
While Faisal’s return was on the cards following Inzamam’s finger injury, it is the unexpected comeback of Afridi that caused some sensation. The flamboyant all-rounder was unceremoniously axed from Pakistan’s squad for the home series against the West Indies following a dismal performance in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in India and several other preceding matches this year. He has scored just 114 runs from his last 17 one-day games at an average of just over eight.
Afridi was unable to find a place back in the team for the first three ODIs of the current series after a spate of unimpressive performances in the ongoing Patron’s Trophy and his chances of earning a spot on Pakistan’s World Cup squad were getting slimmer.
But he changed it all in typical Afridi manner. He hit a crucial fifty for his team — Habib Bank — on an eventful opening day of their Patron’s Trophy match against WAPDA on Sunday when 22 wickets fell. He also took three wickets and two catches.
The big one, however, came on Monday when Afridi hit a whirlwind 100 to put his team within striking distance of an important win. “It is good to see Afridi returning to form because he has been one of our key one-day players,” said Bari.
His own stunning performance together with Yousuf’s unavailability for the Multan game has resulted in a huge opportunity for Afridi to resurrect his international career ahead of next spring’s World Cup in the Caribbean islands.
Faisal can also get a chance to take the field for Pakistan even though Bari said that Inzamam is recovering from his injury. “We have brought Faisal in the team as cover for Inzamam,” he said.
Inzamam, the hero of Pakistan’s narrow two-wicket win in Faisalabad, injured his little finger while attempting to catch the West Indian batsman Marlon Samuels in Lahore in the third one-dayer and later needed three stitches.
Apart from Yousuf, another experienced batsman missing the next game would be Younis Khan. The Pakistan vice-captain will not be able to play his second game in a row because of his brother’s death last week.
Pakistan squad: Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Faisal Iqbal, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Abdul Razzaq, Rao Iftikhar, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Danish Kaneria and Abdul Rehman.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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