A mixed bag | Pakistan Today

A mixed bag

About ten seconds into Immigrant Song, Robert Plant unleashes a howl so spectacularly painful that it appears to be coming from a man trapped in the depths of hell. One expected a similar cry to emanate on December 10 as the squads for the tour to India were announced with Afridi’s name inconspicuous by its absence from the ODI squad. But that never came and nor did any theories about this being a Hindu-Zionist conspiracy surfaced. Sure the ‘Lala Loyalists’ kicked up some fuss but there were no mass protests one would have anticipated with such a decision which tells its own story really.
His stock-assuming he had one-has fallen quite drastically in the last year or so. A paltry bowling batting average of 15.16 and a quite abysmal bowling average of 43.13 in ODI’s in 2012 have meant that even the most ardent Afridi fan boy is struggling to come up with reasons for his inclusion in the team.
The Pathan is quite a lucky man for he has lasted this long with such mediocre career numbers making it useless to read too much into this snub. If however, it is a sign of things to come then it seems a step in the right direction even if nobody wants to claim responsibility for the decision.
Definitely not a step in the right direction is the recalls for Younis Khan (ODI), Imran Farhat (ODI) and Shoaib Malik (T20I). Younis has by and large struggled in the shorter formats and one does not expect him to suddenly change gears at 35. Malik on the other hand does have plenty of gears up his sleeve and would be ideal for a middle order berth but his form has completely deserted him in the last couple of years making him a walking wicket. And then there is Farhat who is in many ways the Mohammad Sami of batting; good at domestic level, beyond pathetic at international level. Suffice to say, these three spots could and probably should have gone to someone else.
Having criticised the selection committee, it is only fair that their better decisions be appreciated. As promised, the selectors have avoided massive tinkering which is a good thing since it brings stability which in turn translates into success. Junaid Khan has sensibly been inducted in both squads this time after bizarrely missing out on the World T20 campaign. Pakistan ’s strength historically has been its fast bowlers but the focus has shifted on to spinners in the recent past with Ajmal ‘spinheading’ the attack. The catch with India though is that their batsmen traditionally play spin rather well especially in their own country. Keeping this in mind, the selectors have put faith in the fast bowlers that have impressed domestically. Wahab Riaz and Anwar Ali are included in the ODI squads while Muhammad Irfan and Asad Ali are part of the T20 team. The lack of quality fast bowlers has been a slight worry off late exacerbated with Gul not performing to his usual standards so one hopes that the ones selected do a good job if given a chance.

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