Shaheen Afridi. (Photo by RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Ace pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi had an ordinary outing in the opening Test against Australia in Perth as Pakistan lost the match by 360 runs. Debutant Khurram Shahzad was terrific with the ball, picking five wickets, but the 24-year-old injured himself and is ruled out of the remaining two matche. That has raised serious questions about the workload management of certain players.
A source close to the team management has said that Pakistan are currently worried about Afridi, especially with the T20 World Cup approaching. The team management also discussed the matter with PCB chief Zaka Ashraf and it has been concluded that Shaheen is likely to take a break from the third Test if Pakistan lose the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
“The backlash the board and management is facing over the handling of Khurrum’s workload has set off panic buttons, plus the form of Shaheen has added to the concerns of the team management and selectors. It is in the pipeline that if Shaheen doesn’t do well in the Melbourne Test and the team ends up on the losing side, he will be rested for the final Test so that he is fresh for the T20I series in New Zealand,” the source was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Notably, Naseem Shah’s injury ruled him out of the ODI World Cup and the ongoing tour to Australia while Haris Rauf backed out out of the Test series leaving Pakistan are in a tight spot. Even though several of their pacers are currently injured, the goal is to manage the workload to keep players fit for the upcoming T20 World Cup, slated to begin in early June.
Ahead of that, the Men in Green will travel to New Zealand for a five-match T20I series, starting January 12. Soon after that, the players will feature in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and then, a four-match series against England. Hence, all of them are likely to get enough game time ahead of the marquee tournament.