Shahid Afridi – Haris Rauf should be playing Australia Tests, not BBL

Rauf pulled out of the series before the squad was announced, citing a desire to manage his workload and his protect his body. He played four games in the Big Bash League in Australia while the series was going on for the Melbourne Stars. Meanwhile, Pakistan went into the series with a squad that possessed very little high pace, with medium fast bowlers Khurram Shahzad and Aamer Jamal playing the first Test, and Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali the second. Shaheen Shah Afridi was the young leader of the pace battery, but even his pace has never quite recovered since a knee injury, and mostly operated in the low 130s kmph.

“I think Haris [Rauf] should be part of this side instead rather than [the BBL],” Afridi, speaking to media at the MCG, said.” In these conditions, the kind of pace he has, he would have performed well and enjoyed himself on the kinds of pitches Australia prepared in Perth and here.”

The pitch at the Optus Stadium for the first Test was lively even by Perth standards, with fast bowlers seeming to get extra assistance as the Test wore on. It was arguably at its most unplayable on the fourth afternoon, when Australia stilled Pakistan out for 89 in 30.2 overs to inflict a 360-run defeat. The home side’s seamers have continued to enjoy great success at the MCG, with Pat Cummins taking five wickets in the first innings.

Shahid Afridi, who is in Australia for work related to his foundation, also said he didn’t believe Shaheen carried any injury despite the drop in pace, believing Pakistan needed to invest in depth rather than individuals.

“I’ve never got the impression that Shaheen has an injury. If you’re injured you can’t play as a fast bowler. He knows his responsibility and how important he is to the team. The fast bowlers, we are expecting a lot from them because they’ve done well in the past. Babar, Rizwan, Shaheen etc. have performed so well we expect them to perform in every match. Relentless consistency is challenging in cricket.

“I have always said that unless our bench is strong we won’t be able to take the best decisions. The A team should be as strong as the main team, so if Shaheen or Babar or Rizwan aren’t strong, we shouldn’t have the excuses of players being unavailable, like we do with Naseem now. When our bench is strong, we will no longer have excuses.”

Shahid also backed Pakistan to maintain a fighting interest in the ongoing Test, where the visitors need 317 to win. No side has chased a higher target in the fourth innings at the MCG in nearly a century, and Pakistan may indeed have been pursuing a much lower total had they held on to their slip catches.

“This Test match they should win. A good opportunity we missed to get them out easily for 150 runs. But it’s a chaseable score. I rate Babar Azam very highly and so does the world. He is the backbone of Pakistan’s batting lineup. The best batters lose form, but I have seen such consistent batters very rarely in Pakistan cricket.”

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