Lahore, Pakistan: Pakistan on Monday dropped big-hitting all-rounder Shahid Afridi from their squad for the three-match One Day International series against arch-rivals India starting this month.
The 32-year-old captained Pakistan in their 2011 World Cup campaign, which ended in a semi-final defeat to India, but has been in poor form of late, managing just 76 runs and five wickets in his last 10 one-dayers.
He will miss the 50-over series — the neighbours’ first in five years — but selectors kept faith with him for the shortest form of the game, naming him in the 15-man Twenty20 squad led by Mohammad Hafeez.
Shoaib Malik likewise misses out on the one-day squad but makes the T20 list, while experienced all-rounder Abdul Razzaq was axed altogether as chief selector Iqbal Qasim said it was time to blood some younger players in one of sport’s fiercest rivalries.
“We have selected a balanced team with the consensus of the selection committee, both the captains and the coach with a hope that these teams will give good results on the India tour,” Qasim told reporters.
Afridi has taken 348 wickets and scored more than 7,000 runs in his 349 ODIs, but there has been speculation over his future after a poor run and a weak showing at the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September-October.
“We have selected Afridi in the Twenty20 squad only and have given Zulfiqar Babar a chance in both the teams as he has been performing well in domestic cricket,” said Qasim of the uncapped 34-year-old left-arm spinner.
Babar, who grabbed a Pakistan record of 96 wickets in the 2009-2010 first-class season, said: “It is a dream come true for me. This is the biggest day in my life as I have always dreamt of playing for Pakistan and I will do my best in India.”
Imran Nazir, who opened the batting at the World Twenty20, was dropped, while batsman Asad Shafiq and left-arm spinner Raza Hasan were ruled out through injury.
Pakistan fly to New Delhi on December 22 and play the first Twenty20 match in Bangalore three days later.
The second Twenty20 match will be played in Ahmedabad on December 27 followed by one-day matches in Chennai (December 30), Kolkata (January 3) and Delhi (January 6).