Friday, November 6, 2009

Inzamam-ul-Haq backs Shahid Afridi as ODI captain

Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Pakistan captain, has called for Shahid Afridi to lead the one-day side as well. Afridi was named Twenty20 captain after Younis Khan retired from the format after leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title in June and has continued to excel as a match-winning allrounder.

Afridi was instrumental in this summer's triumph, turning in Man-of-the-Match performances in both the semi-final and the final. "I think after becoming Twenty20 captain Shahid has shown that he has become more mature and responsible as a player also," Inzamam was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

The last five years have been the most productive of Afridi's career, where despite brief patches of indifference, he has established himself as a fixture in Pakistan's limited-overs set-up. His form has been particularly good this year, with impressive performances in the ODI series and Twenty20 against Australia in Dubai in May, his critical role in leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title, and now in the first ODI against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi. Allied to his player-of-the-tournament contributions in the 2007 World Twenty20, another indicator of his suitability to this format, Afridi's ascension became inevitable.

"I think it would be a good choice because Afridi also gets along well with the other players of the team and has good communication skills and since he was given responsibility, he has been very effective in his individual performances as well," said Inzamam.

He also said that Younis' run of bad form represented a longer pattern of ODI indifference this year: "He is under pressure and unless the captain is contributing as a player it adds to the pressure on the other members of the team."

Inzamam also criticised Younis, the coach Intikhab Alam and chief selector Iqbal Qasim for Shoaib Malik for the first game against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi. "It is a stupid thing they did because he is too experienced a player to be dropped or sacrificed for accommodating two regular openers," he said. "Malik's exclusion has spoilt the balance of the team and this will be obvious against stronger sides."

After the ongoing limited-overs series in the UAE, Pakistan will travel to New Zealand for three Tests after which they hop across the Tasman to play Australia.

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