‘No longer Test material” Shoaib may still make comeback for Asia Cup

Notorious Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar might have been adjudged as a ‘spent force’ by his critics, but the ageing pacer may still get a place in the 15-man squad for the upcoming Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official has said.

According to the official, who refused to be named, the PCB is unsure about Shoaib’s match fitness, but it believes that he can bowl short spells in both one-day and T20 matches.

“Shoaib Akhtar is no more Test cricket material. But he could be utilised in patches. He deserved being given a chance after performing well in the Pentangular Cup in which he claimed 12 wickets to finish as the second-best bowler of the tournament,” The Dawn quoted the official, as saying.

He said that apart from Akhtar, all rounder Mohammed Hafeez could also get one last chance to prove himself after his poor performance in the T20 World Championship.

“Though Hafeez failed miserably in the last World T20, he has good prospects of showing his mettle in the 50-over matches. Thus he will get a chance, despite criticism from some stakeholders,” the official said.

However, some PCB insiders believe that Hafeez’s presence in the list of 35 probables, which was announced earlier this week, was only to cap immense pressure from certain quarters including some top government personnel to include Shoaib Malik in the national squad.

“The PCB has been facing tremendous pressure from certain quarters including some top government personnel to include Malik in the team and Hafeez’s availability for selection would be the best way to counter that pressure,” another PCB official said.

Now, with the ban on Malik being lifted, it would be interesting to see which of the two allrounders succeed cementing a place in the national squad. (ANI)

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