Lahore - Pakistan on Monday axed Shahid Afridi from their 15-man squad for
the Champions Trophy following the all-rounder's below-par performances in
South Africa and a domestic competition.
The 33-year-old, who still holds the world record of fastest one-day century
- off 37 balls made against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in 1996 - has not taken a
single wicket in his last six one-day internationals.
Undoubtedly the most popular player in Pakistan recently, Afridi has hit
just two half-centuries in his last 15 one-day innings, while managing a mere
70 runs and three wickets in four matches for his domestic side this month.
He was also dropped from the one-day squad for last year's tour of India
before making a comeback to the team for the limited-over series against South
Africa in March, where his top-score of 88 came in a losing cause.
Chief selector Iqbal Qasim said Afridi had not been in good form recently.
"Afridi had been selected as a bowling all-rounder but he was not up to
the mark and couldn't score at crucial occasions so we had to left him
out," Qasim told reporters while announcing the squad.
"His (Afridi) career is not finished, if he performs at domestic level,
he can stage a comeback," said Qasim, a former left-arm spinner.
Afridi has 7201 runs and 348 wickets in 354 one-day internationals.
Pakistan will be led by Misbah-ul Haq in the eight-nation Champions Trophy
to be played in England from June 6-23.
They are drawn in group B alongside arch-rivals India, the West Indies and
South Africa. They play the West Indies at The Oval, London on June 7 before
squaring off with South Africa (June 10) and India (June 15).
Defending champions Australia, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand form group
The squad will also play two one-day matches each against Ireland and
Scotland in May before the Trophy.
Besides Afridi, Pakistan had already left out experienced batsman Younis
Khan from the initial squad of 30 announced last month, paving way for
23-year-old Umar Amin and left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman.
Amin, a left-hander who also bowls right-arm medium pace, had played four
Tests and three one-day in 2010.
"We did not have a genuine all-rounder so we have to select Amin who
can also bowl medium pace," said Qasim.
Pakistan have also included pacemen Ehsan Adil, 20, and Asad Ali, 24, in a
fast-bowling attack which will be without experienced Umar Gul who was ruled
out due to knee injury.
Adil has played one Test in South Africa but has yet to play a one-day
match, while Asad has yet to play for Pakistan.
Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Imran Farhat, Asad
Shafiq, Abdul Rehman, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Umar Amin,
Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Saeed Ajmal, Asad Ali, Ehsan Adil, Wahab Riaz.