Waqar Younis and Justin Langer have slammed Pakistan’s decision to rest pace weapon and spiritual leader Shaheen Shah Afridi from the final Test of the series with Australia at the SCG.
With victory in the three-match series now out of reach, Pakistan omitted Afridi at the toss on Wednesday, hoping to keep him fresh for their upcoming T20 series with New Zealand.
Afridi will captain that five-match series, which begins on January 12.
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The selection call has also allowed Pakistan to play specialist tweaker Sajid Khan on an SCG wicket that has traditionally favoured spin.
But the towering Afridi, 12th in the ICC’s Test bowling rankings, has provided valuable experience to a green Pakistani pace attack this series.
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After a slow start to the series in Perth, Afridi masterminded an Australian collapse of 4-16 in the second innings of the Boxing Day Test as the tourists threatened to stage an almighty upset.
“(Resting Afridi) makes me laugh, to be honest,” former pace ace Younis told Channel 7.
“Because that’s what we play for, we play for Test match cricket. We don’t play for T20s or one-day cricket.
Shaheen Shah Afridi is arguably Pakistan’s best bowler. Credit: Daniel Pockett – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Imag
“If you’re missing Test match cricket purely because you are being rested, I do not understand.
“That’s a real shocker for me because … he looked good in the previous match.
“He started feeling like the old Shaheen Afridi and started to swing the ball, and the pace was getting better.”
The call comes despite captain Shan Masood declaring before the Perth Test that Pakistan hoped to use the series with Australia to prove Test cricket remained the playing group’s priority.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has favoured white-ball fixtures in recent times, scheduling only two-match Test series for teams other than Australia and England in the current four-year future tours program.
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Former Australia coach Justin Langer said the contrast in the two teams’ philosophies is stark.
“Again, we’ve got this collective; Pat Cummins is bowling beautifully, as are his three mates,” Langer said of Australia’s seasoned four-pronged pace attack.
“There’s also some strength in the continuity of this attack — they don’t miss many Test matches, other than a few injuries to Josh Hazlewood, a couple of personal bereavements over the last few years, they’re always bowling together.
“I know there will be a lot made of this, but Shaheen Afridi not playing this game makes zero sense to me.
“The continuity to take your best bowler out, it’s got to have an impact on the Pakistani team. They have fought hard for two Tests. The Australians are showing the way here. They played all three Tests, and have done it often in series.”