Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi believes star pacer Haris Rauf should have been part of the Test squad in Australia rather than the Big Bash League (BBL). Rauf withdrew from the series before the team was announced, citing a desire to control his workload and safeguard his body. He played four games for the Melbourne Stars in Big Bash League during Pakistan’s ongoing Test series against Australia.
Given his speed, the former cricketer believes the bowler would have done admirably in the circumstances. Afridi further suggested that Rauf would have enjoyed himself on the pitches constructed by Australia in Perth and Melbourne.
“I think Haris [Rauf] should be part of this side instead rather than [the BBL]. In these conditions, the kind of pace he has, he would have performed well and enjoyed himself on the kinds of pitches Australia prepared in Perth and here,” Afridi said while speaking to media at the MCG as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
Even by Perth standards, the ground at Optus Stadium for the opening Test was active, with fast bowlers appearing to acquire more help as the match progressed.
Afridi also stated that despite the decline in speed, he did not believe Shaheen was injured, and that Pakistan needed to invest in depth rather than individuals.
“I’ve never got the impression that Shaheen has an injury. If you’re injured you can’t play as a fast bowler. He knows his responsibility and how important he is to the team. The fast bowlers, we are expecting a lot from them because they’ve done well in the past. Babar, Rizwan, Shaheen etc. have performed so well we expect them to perform in every match. Relentless consistency is challenging in cricket,” Afridi added.
“I have always said that unless our bench is strong we won’t be able to take the best decisions. The A team should be as strong as the main team, so if Shaheen or Babar or Rizwan aren’t strong, we shouldn’t have the excuses of players being unavailable, like we do with Naseem now. When our bench is strong, we will no longer have excuses,” said the former all-rounder.
Afridi also encouraged Pakistan to keep a fighting chance in the upcoming Test, which the visitors need to win by 317 runs. No team has pursued a higher mark in the fourth innings at the MCG in over a century, and Pakistan might have been chasing a considerably lower score if their slip catches had held.
“This Test match they should win. A good opportunity we missed to get them out easily for 150 runs. But it’s a chaseable score. I rate Babar Azam very highly and so does the world. He is the backbone of Pakistan’s batting lineup. The best batters lose form, but I have seen such consistent batters very rarely in Pakistan cricket,” he added.
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