Shahid Afridi hints at Sarfaraz Ahmed’s inclusion in final XI against New Zealand

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KARACHI: Pakistan’s newly-appointed chief selector Shahid Afridi has hinted at the inclusion of pacer Mir Hamza and wicket-keeper batter Sarfaraz Ahmed in the final XI of Pakistan in the upcoming Test series against New Zealand.

Afridi was appointed interim chief selector on Saturday by Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board’s Management Committee Najam Sethi after the Mohammad Wasim-led selection committee was dissolved following the change in PCB’s helm of affairs.

The first major decision by Afridi — taken a day earlier in consultation with skipper Babar Azam — was to include Hamza, Sajid Khan, and Shahnawaz Dahani in Pakistan’s Test squad for the home series.

In conversation with journalists Sunday, Afridi said that players were included after considering their performances and Pakistan’s strength.

“I’ve got to know that Naseem Shah is not fully fit so it was good to add two fast bowlers to the squad and we’ve been carrying Dahani for so many days, when will he get the opportunity?”

“Also, since Shaheen is not around, it was important to have a left-hander that’s why Hamza was included,” Afridi said, noting that the fast bowler has performed well and that he deserves to play now.

Afridi added that players’ workload management is important and it is something which Babar has also emphasised.

“We have players who are constantly playing all formats. We need to strengthen our bench so that if one is rested, there should be no problem,” the former skipper said.

Aspirations for Babar

He also mentioned that the side has some seniors who’ve been warming the bench for a long time. “I am meeting Babar Azam tonight and we will discuss how to move.”

Afridi also added that he wants to see Babar among the great captains and he will support him to become as good a skipper as good a batsman as he is.

He also pressed for the need to adopt revolutionised approach in cricket, saying Pakistan should move forward from old-school thoughts of preparing typical wickets.

“We can, for sure, prepare pitches like South Africa or Australia. Why should we keep on preparing the same slow-turn wickets every time? We have prepared good wickets in past, we can do it again, we can’t become a top team if we continue to adopt an old-school mentality,” he concluded.

Test squad

Babar Azam (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Sajid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood

Revised itinerary

26-30 December — 1st Test, Karachi

2-6 January — 2nd Test, Karachi

9 January — 1st ODI, Karachi

11 January — 2nd ODI, Karachi

13 January — 3rd ODI, Karachi