Afridi should open rather than Sarfraz during World Cup: Miandad


“The selectors have named just two specialist openers in Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad. Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed is among their plans to get promotion as an opening batsman in case any one of the two specialists fails at the top order. This will harm Sarfraz more and it’s expecting too much from a batsman who has done wonders for Pakistan in the UAE in recent months down the order. No one else but Shahid Afridi should take the responsibility of opening the innings and take chance of blasting the bowling with the field restrictions in the first batting Powerplay,” Miandad said.

“To be a selector you must have a vision. I agree it’s tough to be on a selection panel anywhere in the world but it’s even tougher if you are a selector in Pakistan and have to pick 15 for an event like the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015,” he admitted.

“Before the mega event next month, the doors were shut on Pakistan’s two premier spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez, while if one goes by the Pakistan Cricket Board’s health bulletins, fast bowler Umar Gul is not fit for the mega event.

“Over the last few years, Saeed had been a key component in Pakistan’s successes in all the three formats of the game, especially in 50-over cricket. While batsmen had worked out on majority of the bowlers around the world, Saeed was still lethal with his mystery bowling and his absence is for sure a major setback to Pakistan’s World Cup plans.

“While Hafeez managed to squeeze in the 15-member squad purely as an opening batsman, nobody could raise questions on his utility as an off-spinner who could bowl his full quota of 10 overs in a One-Day International. He would have been more effective with his miserly bowling than most of those bowlers now travel with the Pakistan team to Australia and New Zealand,” Miandad said.
“Without these three key bowling resources, selectors have packed the squad with five specialist fast bowlers. And that’s where I guess they have missed the trick. When you lose your experience bowlers for whatever reasons, the first thing which should spring in your mind is to look for an experienced replacement. Selectors say they did consider Shoaib Malik, but he could not make the final cut because Haris Sohail is more effective as a left-arm spinner and gives them added advantage of a left-handed batsman.

“Haris impressed selectors with his bowling in the series against New Zealand on slow wickets in the United Arab Emirates. I have nothing against Haris, but can the selectors tell me what experience Haris has on bowling pitches similar to the ones we are going to get in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015? The answer is a firm ‘NO’,” Miandad stressed.

“I agree Shoaib had been out of the national team for quite some time, but he has been playing in league cricket in Australia and has also scored prolifically in the domestic cricket matches. If selectors picked fast bowler Sohail Khan on his recent performance in Pentangular Cup, Shoaib also deserved to make, at least, one more comeback. Not only as a batsman, Shoaib could have easily filled the void of Hafeez’s off-spin.

“While 11 players take the field, the remaining four on the bench should be equally good to replace them in case the need arises. I’m afraid Pakistan doesn’t have enough bench strength in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. It doesn’t harm the team even if experienced player like Shoaib sits on the bench.

“Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq should take the leaf out of World Cup winning team and try to do what Imran Khan and myself did at the top order because there aren’t many Inzamam-ul-Haqs in this 2015 squad. Sohaib Maqsood is coming back after long injury layoff while Umar Akmal has also not done much with the bat in recent matches,” he added.

“Barring tall Mohammad Irfan, who if fit could be a lethal weapon on bouncy wickets in Australia and New Zealand, I don’t see much of the depth in our fast bowling. Junaid Khan is returning after knee injury while Sohail Khan, Ehsan Adil and Wahab Riaz are all yet to prove they could be match-winners.

“Then, the selectors have picked one one-day wonder Yasir Shah on his performances in Test matches! This again I feel is a bit asking too much from the leggie. When we had Afridi as a leg-spinner, selectors could have easily picked one of the two left-arm spinners Raza Hasan or Zulfiqar Babar to add variety into our bowling. If the selectors and team management are thinking they both Yasir and Afridi could make the final playing XI, I don’t think this happening in reality,” Miandad pointed.

“It’s tough to compare present team with the one we had in 1992. We had loads of experience at the top order in 1992 which I don’t see in our present squad. That team had plenty of experience playing in Australia, which this team doesn’t have it. I wish them all the good luck Down Under because in cricket anything can happen. Maybe it’s time for a miracle, who knows!” said Miandad. Courtesy ICC