#360view: Shehzad omission is glaring oversight

Barnaby Read 16:05 10/02/2016
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First things first, there is no question that Ahmed Shehzad is in dire form right now.

In T20Is he is on a barren run that has seen him contribute just 96 runs in his last eight games, of which Pakistan have won just three.

Shehzad’s ODI record in recent months bodes only slightly better but scores of 95 and 44 in victories over Sri Lanka during his last eight outings highlight both his worth and ability.

And if you look beyond those eight most recent T20Is, Shehzad was enjoying some of the best form of his Pakistan career.

An unbeaten 111 against Bangladesh at the last World T20 saw him finish the tournament with an average of 46.00, albeit while only adding 27 more runs in Pakistan’s other three games.

It is a mark inconsistency so often associated with a young man – Shehzad is still only 24 – but that innings should serve as a reminder of how destructive the opener can be on his day.

He followed that up with 227 runs at 32.24 in last year’s World Cup, second only to captain Misbah-ul-Haq in terms of weight of runs for his side.

Shehzad scored two fifties at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and though they came against associate nations – 93 versus UAE and 63 against Ireland – it does not detract from the fact that runs of substance were plundered at a global tournament.

Shehzad's T20I record

  • Matches - 40
  • 941 runs @ 24.76 and S/R 115.88
  • One 100s, four 50s
  • Highest score is 111*

With four tournaments behind him – including burgeoning experiences at the 2009 World T20 and 2010/11 World Cup – Shehzad’s experience should have provided the perfect platform to lead from the front for Pakistan.

And boy do Shahid Afridi’s men need someone to deliver.

They are lagging behind the rest of the world in short form cricket, struggling to come to terms with the fact 300 doesn’t win ODIs and 200 can be usurped in T20Is.

In Shehzad, however, they have a batsman willing and able to take them into the realms of such high run making, borne out of his natural positivity and attacking intent.

He has shown this in the ongoing inaugural Pakistan Super League and is currently the fourth highest run scorer in the competition. From his four matches with the Quetta Gladiators, Shehzad has 113 runs at 28.25 and a strike-rate of 146.75.

He has formed a devastating opening partnership with the league’s highest run-getter Luke Wright and for the PCB to not take note of his PSL performances appears a huge contradiction.

The PSL is meant to be the all-singing, all-dancing franchise league that revives Pakistan’s fortunes both on and off the pitch. It is meant to promote Pakistan cricket and its players, and drive much needed money back into the game.

But the PCB is ignoring one of its own, one who has so far enjoyed success and begun to recapture the form both he and his country so desperately needed.

Shehzad’s omission seems a sheepish way for Pakistan cricket to be entering the brave new world it so craves.

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