Legendary leg-spinner and former Test cricketer Abdul Qadir believes that the national selection committee has taken a brave decision by including two leg-spinners in the 15-man World Cup squad.
In his view, the inclusion of Shahid Afridi and new comer Yasir Shah could turn out to be a double-edged sword for Pakistan.
“It is a very brave decision and a gamble to include both Afridi and Yasir in the 15-man squad,” said Qadir. “Leg-spinners can turn out to be match winners on their day but it will not be easy to bowl in Australia and New Zealand. If the wickets suit them, then they could turn out to be unplayable but if they don’t adjust, then they would just as quickly become the weak links. In my opinion, left-arm spinner Raza Hasan would’ve been a better choice.”
Qadir represented Pakistan from 1977-93 and played 67 Tests, in which he picked up 236 wickets, while he claimed 132 scalps in 104 ODIs.
The ex-leggie said that Afridi can do well in the mega event because he has the experience on his side but Yasir could struggle to adjust quickly.
Asked if he would welcome Afridi and Yasir to give them some tips ahead of the mega event, Qadir replied that he had earlier helped Afridi improve his bowling but he never gave credit to him and since Yasir has been praising Shane Warne, he should go and learn the art from him instead.
Meanwhile, Qadir urged the team management, experts and fans to back wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed even if he makes some mistakes behind the wicket.
“I urge everyone to back Sarfraz because he has emerged as a game-changer for Pakistan with some special knocks and everyone must back him. I’ve seen world-class wicketkeepers make mistakes, so former cricketers and critics such as Ramiz Raja should support him,” he added. “Our batting only gains momentum once Sarfraz and Afridi come out to bat. The team management should give confidence to Umar Akmal as well by sending him at number three or four. I think he would deliver. They also need to chalk out their best XI before departing for New Zealand.”
Qadir termed co-hosts New Zealand as one of the hot favourites to win the World Cup because of how they have prepared their team; evidenced by their ODI series win against Pakistan in the absence of skipper Brendon McCullum, Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
Zulfiqar, Fawad unlucky to be left out: Latif
Former skipper Rashid Latif said that the likes of Zulfiqar Babar, Fawad Alam and Bilawal Bhatti were unlucky to be left out of final team.
“Hard luck for Babar, Alam and Bhatti that they were not selected. Only 15 players could be named by the selectors but somewhere Pakistan would miss them in my opinion,” stated Latif. “Now it’s up to the players who have been selected to make up for their absence by raising their game and my prayers are with the team.”
No fast-bowling all-rounder?
Former batsman Basit Ali said that he has been surprised that selectors have not included a fast-bowling all-rounder in the squad.
“I’m baffled as to why selectors didn’t include a genuine fast-bowling all-rounder. Bhatti could’ve been an important addition to the team. I hope that our pacers don’t break down in Australia as they have just recovered from injuries, while my wishes are with the squad,” said Basit.