BIRMINGHAM: Shahid Afrdi’s absence had a big part in Pakistan’s dismal 2013 Champions Trophy campaign which ended after a thrashing at the hands of India in Birmingham, according to former India opener Navjot Sidhu.
Afridi has scored 142 runs and taken just three wickets in nine One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in the last 12 months but Sidhu believed the all-rounder’s presence in the side would have been aan dvantage for Pakistan on the field as the team ended the tournament failing to win a single match.
“Omitting Afridi was a huge blunder by Pakistan,” Sidhu told Dawn.com. “He’s a world-class player. He wasn’t in form but big tournaments like these bring out the best in big players. By leaving him out, Pakistan handed half the advantage to the opposition even before taking the field.”
Pakistan have been missing an all-rounder as well as someone with the ability to use the long handle lower down in the order and Afridi, according to Sidhu, would have been perfectly placed for that.
The former India opener was also disappointed by Pakistan’s dismal batting performance in the tournament, ruing the inconsequential nature of the India-Pakistan clash at Edgbaston.
“You could just tell by looking at the way Pakistan batted that they weren’t confident at all. They were hesitant and quite defensive. Quite poor to be honest. Inexperience was not the only reason as the seniors failed to put up a show at all and it was very disturbing to watch them play the way they did. They’re also missing an all-rounder and these are important issues the board and selectors need to address quite quickly.”
Sidhu did, however, give his approval to Pakistan’s bowling line-up, especially a ‘rejuvenated’ Wahab Riaz.
“Wahab’s been most impressive on this tour for Pakistan. I like Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal still is a pain for the opposition but Wahab’s speed and ability to move the ball has made him an interesting bowler to look at,” he said.
Sidhu said the Indo-Pak clash did not live up to its pre-tournament hype because there was not enough at stake. India eased to an eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston on Saturday in a match that was disrupted by frequent rain-delays.
“As for the match, it wasn’t one of those usually exciting and electrifying Pakistan-India matches and I just hope that Pakistan batsmen had done enough for the team to have been in the competition on the eve of this match. That way we might’ve seen a better game with perhaps elimination or progress riding on the outcome.”