The Pakistan comebacks of Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad might not have gone to plan but skipper Sarfraz Ahmed feels that the decision to bring back the two controversial players back from the cold was the right one.
Akmal made his first T20I appearance for Pakistan in over three years in Saturday’s 64-run loss to Sri Lanka at Lahore while Shehzad made his comeback as well after serving his suspension for a doping violation.
Many had questioned the logic behind giving the two talented, but highly inconsistent batsmen, another shot at international cricket and the duo only provided more ammunition to their detractors with displays to forget in the crushing loss.
While Akmal was dismissed for a golden duck, Shehzad lasted just nine deliveries in which he scored the mere four runs. Despite their failures with the bat, Sarfraz has given the duo his full backing as captain.
“If you talk about previous two domestic seasons, they were performers and they were again performers in the Pakistan Super League,” the Pakistan skipper had stated after the first T20I against Sri Lanka.
“We are trying our fullest to give a complete chance to those who are brought back. There is nothing to worry. Both are experienced players and once they settle in, they will perform. So, my full backing for them as a captain.”
Akmal and Shehzad’s selections in the playing XI for the first T20I came at the expense of Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail who both had to contend for a place on the bench.
Justifying the decision to drop the two in-form batsmen, Sarfraz said, “Fakhar and Haris both have been part of the team for some time now.”
“When we brought back Ahmed and Umar, we intended to make them play in their own positions. Had we played Fakhar, then Ahmed would have been made to play at one down. Me and Misbah bhai (Misbah-ul-Haq) decided to try Ahmed as an opener.
“With our eyes on the 2020 T20 World Cup, if Ahmed is able to settle himself at this (opening) number, we can never find a better player than him.
“Similar with Umar Akmal. We wanted to play him in his number and hence had to drop Haris, who we have seen and have no doubt about his ability.”
Sarfraz and head coach cum chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq will now hope that Akmal and Shehzad can seize their chance when Pakistan take on Sri Lanka in the second T20I at Lahore on Monday.
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