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Thursday, December 20, 2012
Sports

'Afridi still can play'

Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi sweeps one during a training session in Lahore on Wednesday. Pakistan will play two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals against India starting on December 25. Photo: AFP

Dropped all-rounder Shahid Afridi might be reconsidered for Pakistan's one-day international series against India, limited-overs captain Misbahul Haq said on Wednesday. Afridi was picked only for the two Twenty20s against India this month but left out of the three one-dayers because he's scored only 182 runs in his last 16 ODIs with only one half century.

But Afridi has scored two half centuries in 50-over practice matches in the last three days, including 90 off 64 balls on Wednesday to catch the eyes of his captain. "If his form remains like this and we needed him, we will definitely consider him," Misbah said in Lahore at Pakistan's training camp for the tour. "The form of senior players, who are experienced enough, is very important."

Afridi has played 349 one-dayers, the third most for a Pakistani, but has struggled for runs in ODIs this year. Former captain Wasim Akram reportedly criticised Afridi's exclusion from the ODIs and said the enigmatic allrounder could have been picked in any team as a bowler. "Indian players are afraid of Afridi and I fail to understand why he was dropped," Daily Jang quoted Akram as saying. "If the selectors were thinking that Afridi was out of form, then they should have also dropped him from the Twenty20 team."

Pakistan leave for India on December 22, and the series begins with a Twenty20 at Bangalore on December 25. The Pakistan Cricket Board appointed another former captain Inzamamul Haq as the batting consultant for the short tour of India which ends on January 6 after the third ODI at New Delhi.

Misbah said Inzamam has helped the batsmen how to be mentally strong while playing against India and be aggressive against their archrivals. "He is teaching us what types of hurdles we are going to face and how to get over them," Misbah said. "No doubt in India vs Pakistan cricket you have to play aggressive cricket and we will try to apply it over there."

Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore believes off-spinner Saeed Ajmal will be their trump card against India, but Misbah said the rest of the bowlers also have to take responsibility. "India has depth in their batting line-up and you can't catch them with one bowler," Misbah said. "As always, Saeed Ajmal is our trump card, but as a team if we bowl well, then we do have a chance and I think it's not a right thing to depend only on Saeed Ajmal."

Misbah said the first tour between the neighbours in five years will ramp up the pressure and expectations more than usual, but he insists they must try to treat the series as a regular event.

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