Controversy erupts as Pakistan defends resting Shaheen Afridi for long-term fitness

Read about the heated debates sparked by Shaheen Afridi’s omission from the Test lineup against Australia, raising concerns over PCB’s decision-making and player management.

Pakistan’s team Director, Mohammad Hafeez, defended the decision to exclude Shaheen Shah Afridi from the lineup in the third Test against Australia, citing the imperative need to safeguard players’ long-term well-being.

Following Pakistan’s defeat at the SCG, Hafeez clarified that Afridi’s omission was a strategic move aimed at preserving his enduring career. Despite Afridi’s exceptional performance in the initial Tests, concerns about his physical strain raised doubts about his optimal performance in the third Test.

“He performed exceptionally in the first two matches, bowling the most overs among all bowlers. However, before the third Test, he expressed physical discomfort. Our primary concern is his welfare,” stated Hafeez.

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Afridi’s absence further weakened Pakistan’s already depleted bowling attack, missing key players like Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, and Abrar Ahmed.

The team heavily relied on Afridi, evident from Shan Masood frequently turning to him in the initial games, where Afridi bowled nearly 100 overs across two Tests. Notably, no fast bowler from either side came close to this workload. By the second Test’s conclusion, offspinner Nathan Lyon had bowled fewer than 70 overs, the second-most by then.

“We prioritize players’ careers. I’ll never risk a decision that might jeopardize someone’s career for months or even a year. It was a tough choice, but it’s for the players’ benefit. We won’t gamble with a player’s future,” emphasized Hafeez.

The decision stirred debates, with accusations that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) favored T20 cricket over the longer format. Former fast bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis criticized the move, with Wasim suggesting Afridi made himself unavailable and Waqar expressing surprise at the decision.

Wasim stated, “Let’s not mask this as management’s call. It’s solely Shaheen’s choice,” while Waqar found Afridi’s absence unexpected, noting his impressive form in the preceding match.

Afridi’s role as captain for the Pakistan T20I series sparked scrutiny regarding balancing Test commitments and leadership in T20 cricket. With upcoming T20 series in New Zealand, the Pakistan Super League (PSL), and the T20 World Cup, the decision’s complexity heightened due to added workload.

-IANS

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