ICL: Indian Cricket League

Rumblings of a rift noticed in Pakistan cricket team


As predicted by some critics, cracks seem to be appearing in the Pakistan cricket team with a few of the senior players showing resentment against captain Shoaib Malik.

The absence of Shahid Afridi from the practice session here at the National Stadium on Tuesday, ahead of the second one-dayer against Zimbabwe in Hyderabad, gave some weight to the speculations that the seniors are not very happy with their captain.

Malik and team manager Talat Ali did not explain the reason behind Afridi’s absence. Sources, however, said that the star all-rounder flew out to Islamabad after Monday’s opening one-dayer for an interview regarding a United States’ visa.

According to the sources, Afridi opted to take permission from top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials for his Islamabad visit rather than following the standard procedure according to which a player should get permission from the team manager or his captain.

Afridi, who is more experienced than Malik, was a candidate for the captaincy, at least in the ODIs, after former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq resigned following last year’s World Cup. But the PCB opted for Malik saying that he was the perfect man to lead the team’s rebuilding process.

When Malik was named as the skipper after last year’s disastrous World Cup, there were fears that the team’s senior and more accomplished players might not accept the 25-year-old all-rounder as their leader. But senior players like Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Akhtar and Afridi assured that they would fully back their new captain.

Soon after taking over as captain, Malik led Pakistan to an ODI series win over Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi last summer and then spearheaded the Greenshirts to the final of the inaugural World Twenty20 championship in South Africa. But since losing the ‘dream final’ against old rivals India, it’s all been downhill for Malik and his team.

The Pakistanis were beaten at home in both the Test and ODI series by South Africa last year and experienced a similar fate in India in November-December when they lost 2-3 in the one-day series and 0-1 in the Test series.

With the team giving a below-par showing, speculations of a rift within the team began to surface. Younis Khan openly announced that he was keen to captain Pakistan after the tour of India, raising a few eyebrows within the PCB set-up.

PCB officials, however, maintain that Malik has complete support of his players. “There are no rifts in the team and people who talk about it have their own vested interests,” said a PCB official.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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