Pakistan on Thursday announced their 15-member squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia where star pacer Shaheen Afridi is all set to return from his knee injury. Meanwhile, the squad also features Shan Masood, who is yet to make his T20I debut, while Haider Ali has also earned a call-up for the first time since December 2021. However, former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar was left furious at squad selection as he lashed out at Pakistan Cricket Board’s chief selector Mohammad Wasim and the present head coach Saqlain Mushtaq.
Speaking on his YouTube channel on Friday, Akhtar opined that Pakistan had one issue to solve – middle order batting- after their Asia Cup tournament where they were stunned by a rejuvenated Sri Lanka side in the final, but instead took an array of poor calls before putting forth a disappointing squad for the World Cup which begins in October. One particular call which the legendary pacer highlighted was no retaining batter Fakhar Zaman in the main squad as Pakistan stuck with captain Babar Azam as their opening batsman.
“Pakistan Cricket Board ne kya select kiya he team. Problem middle order ka that but unhone kaha ki consistency ke saath hum aisa decision karenge jo aapko bara pasand ayeaga, matlab humlog aisa bura decision lenge ki middle order change hi nehi karenge. Fakhar Zaman, I have told this a million times before, give him those six overs. Australia me ball usse suit karega but Babar Azam ko upr hi rakhna,” he said.
The veteran pacer then lashed out at the chief selector for his “average decisions” and criticised his former teammate and incumbent coach Saqlain for having no idea about T20 cricket. He eventually predicted that with the team Pakistan picked for the World Cup, a first-round exit would be evident.
“Jab chief selector average hoga unke decision bhi average honge. Saqlain(Mushtaq) last played cricket in 2002, I don’t want to say this as he is my friend, but I don’ think he has any idea about T20 cricket. I don’t think this is your forte. Meanwhile Mohammad Yousuf is not even there is the team. Had he been there, how could our batting not perform? Yousuf is an asset in the dressing room, but I don’t know how much say he has in this team. Iftikhar Ahmed is Misbah part two. Mashallah, we had Rizwan and now he has Iftikhar for company. With this team, we might get knocked out in the first round itself. I am really scared as our batting has no depth. Our captain is also not cut out for this format as he always looks for classic cover drives. He wants to look classic.”
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