Malik’s loss could be Afridi’s gain

July 1st, 2008 - 7:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, July 1 (IANS) Pakistani selectors were prepared to drop senior allrounder Shahid Afridi for the do-or-die Asia Cup outing against India Wednesday but skipper Shoaib Malik’s poor health has forced them to rethink. Afridi is facing the axe after a series of poor batting displays in recent times but national selectors believe that Pakistan would need him against the Indians if Malik is forced out of the game.

Malik, who has done well with the bat with a century and a fifty in his last two Asia Cup outings, is suffering from acute dehydration and remains doubtful for the game.

A selector told IANS that Malik’s fate would be decided at a meeting with the team management later Tuesday after the team’s training session.

A source in the Pakistan team said that Malik is in a poor state of health and is quite unlikely to take the field in the crucial game. Pakistan have to beat India by a healthy margin to stay alive in the Asia Cup.

Afridi, in his last ten one-dayers, has a highest score of 27. In the three Asia Cup games, Afridi has scored 4 (Hong Kong), 9 (India) and 0 (Sri Lanka).

Afridi, the selectors feel, is no more a sure shot for the national team as he doesn’t earn a guaranteed place on his bowling prowess alone.

Pakistan have decided to field rookie pacer Abdul Rauf in place of another youngster Wahab Riaz Wednesday. Rauf has good pace but can be wayward at times. Karachi all-rounder Fawad Alam is also expecting to return to the line-up if Afridi is dropped while a return of young opener Nasir Jamshed is also on the cards.

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