LAHORE: Former captain Shahid Afridi has been appointed as the interim chair of men’s national team selection committee, which will have former internationals Abdul Razzaq and Rao Iftikhar Anjum as members, the Pakistan Cricket Board announced on Saturday.

The PCB underwent a major shake-up on Thursday when a 14-member management committee took over after Ramiz Raja was sacked as chairman.

Najam Sethi, the chairman of the management committee appointed by the government to form a new governing board within four months, dissolved the previous committee that was headed by chief selector Mohammad Wasim before appointing Afridi.

Former Test player Haroon Rasheed, one of 14 members in the new interim management committee, was named as convenor of the selection committee.

Wasim, a former Pakistan middle-order batter, was appointed in 2020 and was expected to stay until next year’s 50-over World Cup in India. He was sacked, following a year in which Pakistan were beaten in the finals of the Twenty20 World Cup and the Asia Cup, before their 3-0 whitewash to England in a home Test series.

Afridi’s appointment comes with Pakistan currently involved in a two-match Test series against New Zealand with the first match in Karachi starting from Monday.

Sethi welcomed Afridi as head of the selection panel and hoped the committee “will make brave and bold decisions that will help us produce a strong and competitive side in the series against New Zealand.”

In a career remembered for his hard-hitting batting, Afridi retired from international cricket in 2017 after playing more than 500 international games across all formats after his 1996 debut.

The flamboyant all-rounder scored 11,196 runs and took 541 wickets with his leg-spin bowling in his 27 Tests, 398 ODIs and 99 Twenty20s. He also captained the team in 83 international games. He was a member of the team which won the 2009 T20 World Cup in England.

“I feel honoured to have been assigned this responsibility,” Afridi said in a statement. “We need to get back to our winning ways and I have no doubts that through meritocratic and strategic selection decisions, we will help the national side to perform strongly in the series against New Zealand and reclaim the confidence of our fans.”

TRIO ADDED TO TEST SQUAD

Pakistan had already announced a 16-strong squad for the New Zealand series but on Saturday evening, Afridi took the first decision in his new role by adding three players to the team including pacers Mir Hamza and Shahnawaz Dahani and off-spinner Sajid Khan.

Hamza’s only previous Test appearance came in 2018 against Australia while Dahani is uncapped at this level. Sajid played his seventh and last Test against Australia earlier this year.

The PCB said that Afridi had chaired a meeting of the selection committee which saw captain Babar Azam join via a video link.

“We had a good discussion on the squad and agreed we needed to strengthen our bowling department to give ourselves the best chance of taking 20 wickets in a match,” Afridi said in a statement.

“I am confident the inclusion of three additional bowling resources will give Babar Azam more options to field the best available squad for the first Test.”

Revised squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Moham­mad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Sajid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2022

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