Pakistani cricket officials are considering the option of promoting big-hitting Shahid Afridi up the order in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in a bid to make full use of his explosive batting skills in the 12-nation spectacle.
Team manager Talat Ali told ‘The News that Pakistan are expecting Afridi to play a major role in the T20 World Cup campaign and may utilise his pinch-hitting at the top of the order.
“Twenty20 cricket is tailor-made for Afridi, we all know that,” said Talat, a former Pakistan Test cricketer. “For quite some time, he has been batting down the order but we are seriously considering the option of bringing him at number three or four in the Twenty20 World Cup,” he said.
Afridi, 27, warmed up for the assignment in South Africa by punishing minnows Uganda in Pakistan’s 148-run win their opening game of a four-nation T20 tournament in Nairobi on Saturday. Afridi smashed seven sixes and three fours in a 15-ball 57 that included 34 in one over in which he hit five sixes and a four.
Talat agreed that Uganda were a weak opposition but was quick to add that Afridi has the guts to repeat similar performances in the Twenty20 World Cup to be held from September 11-24.
“On his day Afridi is perhaps the most dangerous batsman when it comes to the shorter version of the game,” said the manager. “And these days he is in great form which is why I’m confident he would shine in South Africa.”
Talat said that Pakistan have two very good openers in Salman Butt and Imran Nazir and may not opt to open with Afridi, who has a knack for playing rash shots. “But Afridi can come in at number three or four according to the requirement so he has enough balls to play in a match.”
Former Pakistan captain Younis Khan, who returned to the side after missing a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka earlier this summer, normally comes in at number three but Talat said that being the team’s most accomplished batsman he will now be the backbone of the batting-line.
“We have a number of big-hitters but the team would greatly be relying on the dependable Younis Khan,” he said adding that Younis may prove to be more valuable, batting at number four.
Talat said that Afridi’s lusty hitting can provide Pakistan with the sort of edge that is needed to win major titles.
With an ODI strike rate of 109.38 Afridi is certainly one of the most big-hitting batsmen in world cricket. His abilities as an aggressive leg-spinner can add another dimension to Pakistan’s pace-oriented bowling attack in the T20 World Cup where they are bracketed with arch-rivals India and Scotland and Group D.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Pakistan, Shahid Afridi, Talat Ali, Twenty20 World Cup
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, September 3rd, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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