LAHORE: The Pakistan cricket team, despite having lost back to back ODIs against host England in the past four days, has surprisingly not yet given a chance to two of its seniormost players — all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik — who reported fit in the second ODI at Southampton on Saturday.
Both the players were once again overlooked for the third ODI against England at Bristol on Tuesday as Pakistan’s young and inexperienced bowling attack was thrashed all over the park by the hosts who cruised to a six wicket win while chasing a daunting 359 for victory.
Earlier, Pakistan went 0-1 down in the second game at Southampton after the first ODI of the five-match series was washed out.
Almost the entire panel of commentators and experts including former England skipper Nasser Hussein, David Lloyd, Mike Atherton, Ian Botham, Waqar Younis and Rameez Raja remained clueless as to why Pakistan chose to ignore both Hafeez and Malik who could have brought a wealth of experience and wisdom to a struggling Pakistan outfit.
A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that both Hafeez and Malik have been fit and available for selection since the Southampton game but their omission has puzzled both fans and critics.
The next game at Nottingham is Pakistan’s last chance to save this series while a defeat will settle it for England quite handsomely.
The all-important World Cup is now barely 15 days away but surprisingly, the team management is avoiding to test the abilities and form of both Malik and Hafeez in this preparatory series before the mega event.
It may be mentioned here that Hafeez has fully recovered from his thumb injury sustained in the last Pakistan Super League edition while Malik, who took a ten-day leave to attend to an urgent family matter back home, has returned to be with the team and fielded as substitute at Bristol for a short while too.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019