Friday December 08, 2023

Babar should've plenty of options ahead of World Cup: Shahid Afridi

“We have given new players a chance in upcoming NZ series [...] in order to finalise combination for WC 2023,” says newly-elected interim chief selector

By Web Desk
January 08, 2023
Former captain Shahid Afridi. —Facebook/ Shahid Afridi
Former captain Shahid Afridi. —Facebook/ Shahid Afridi 

Babar Azam should have plenty of options at his disposal ahead of the World Cup in India during October-November 2023, said newly-elected interim chief selector Shahid Afridi.

Afridi's comments came while hosting a dinner for the Pakistan cricket team on Saturday in his house in Karachi.

“We have given new players a chance in the upcoming New Zealand series because we want to give Babar plenty of options in order to finalise the combination for the World Cup,” the former captain said.

Meanwhile, speedster Naseem Shah said that Pakistan have an adequate number of ODI matches in 2023 to prepare for the mega event.

“There is still some time left before the World Cup but we have quite a few matches before it which will help us prepare adequately,” the right-armer said.

It must be noted that Pakistan´s last pair Naseem Shah and Abrar Ahmed survived 21 balls in fading light Friday while Sarfaraz Ahmed hit a fighting century to deprive New Zealand of a victory, bringing the second Test to a sensational draw on Friday.

New Zealand were in sight of a series-clinching victory after dismissing Sarfaraz for a career-best 118 with 39 balls remaining in the match.

But as dusk settled, Naseem scored 15 and Ahmed seven to guide Pakistan to 304-9 in pursuit of a 319-run target when umpires Alex Wharf and Aleem Dar declared the light unfeasible to continue with three overs remaining.

The two-match series ended 0-0 after the first Test — also in Karachi — ended in a draw, depriving New Zealand of their first series win in Pakistan for 53 years.

“It was an exciting series and as a cricketer we enjoyed that a lot. I’m sure the fans enjoyed it a lot since New Zealand is one of the best teams in the world,” said middle-order batter Agha Salman.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, who missed the series due to injury, was also happy to see the fightback staged by the Pakistan team.

“The Pakistan team staged a great comeback in the second Test [against New Zealand]. We saw quite a few good performances which is a good sign for our team. The entire team supports each other as well,” said Shaheen.

Pakistan will now play three ODIs against New Zealand in Karachi. The matches will be played at National Bank Cricket Arena (NBCA) on January 9, 11, and 13.