Shahid Afridi was criticised for chocking under pressure in the World T20 match against India © AFP
Karachi: Mar 22, 2014
Pakistan‘s loss to India in their ICC World T20 2014 opener has sparked massive criticism of skipper Mohammed Hafeez with former captains such as Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf demanding that he be replaced by flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi.
“Hafeez needed to be more attacking with his bowlers and field placings once we were able to set them only a target of 130 runs,” Miandad said after the seven-wicket loss in Mirpur, Bangladesh last night.
“The key to winning the match was to stop the runs if wickets were not falling so that the run rate increased and the Indians came under pressure. Unfortunately Hafeez failed to do that as captain. He should have used his bowlers more proactively,” Miandad said.
Yousuf also criticised the body language of Hafeez who is said to be at loggerheads with coach Moin Khan and the other support staff.
“With better captaincy and the right pressure we could have made this total of 130 like 160 for India but this didn’t happen,” Yousuf added.
Both of them said they felt that Afridi was a better choice to lead the team in limited overs cricket.
“Afridi is more aggressive and proactive and the responsibility could also force him to raise his own game,” Miandad said.
Yousuf pointed out Pakistan needed positive leadership in limited overs cricket and Afridi appeared a good choice as he brought energy to the team.
But Pakistan’s former captain, Rameez Raja was not in agreement with Miandad and Yousuf.
“I don’t think we should put any more burden on Afridi than he can bear. And I don’t think his batting is up to the mark where he can also be given responsibility of the captaincy,” he said.
Pakistan’s former captain Basit Ali also felt that instead of getting into the captaincy debate, it was better if Hafeez was given confidence and allowed to focus on the World T20 campaign.
Interestingly, speculation is rife that the present Pakistan team management of coach Moin Khan and cricket consultant Zaheer Abbas are also in favour of bringing back Afridi as captain of the one-day side as they are not satisfied with Hafeez’s captaincy.
Afridi was Pakistan’s One-Day International (ODI) and T20 captain until May 2011.
Yousuf also felt that Afridi should not be seen as a batsman but as a bowler who was capable of producing good batting sometimes.
“He hits one six and he is so popular he will be in the team for next two years. But I have always maintained he is not a batsman as he just doesn’t play like batsmen do. People take my views in a negative sense. But I am surprised that people still have expectations from him as a batsman,” Yousuf said.
He pointed out that even Afridi himself had said he didn’t consider himself as a batsman but as a bowler.
“That is also my view for long now that Afridi is primarily a bowler now and he plays as a bowler alone as he brings energy to the team. My meaning is we shouldn’t expect him to play like a batsman and when he does get runs and hit sixes we should consider this as a bonus.”
Former coach Mohsin Khan felt pressure got the better of Afridi last night.
“I think because of the Asia Cup expectations were high from Afridi but I don’t think he is still 100 percent fit and this could be a decisive factor if Pakistan is to move ahead in this tournament,” Mohsin said.
Such has been Afridi’s popularity since his sixes in the Asia Cup that after the team returned home, a well known property estate magnate gifted him a plot in Islamabad.
Afridi has been struggling with a groin injury since the Asia Cup 2014 and also joined the team late. A reliable source in the team said Afridi might miss tomorrow’s game against Australia due to his groin strain.