My philosophy on selection has been: either convince or get convinced. The truth is that the 15-man squad announced for the Champions Trophy doesn’t convince me. To me, and to a lot of people who understand the game and the conditions in England, this is the most unbalanced squad ever selected for tour of England.
If one looks at the composition of the squad it has three openers in Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat and Nasir Jamshed, only two genuine batsmen in Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq, a wicket-keeper batsman in Kamran Akmal who is clearly on a decline, a struggling all-rounder in Shoaib Malik and as many as five fast bowlers.
I think instead of having three openers, in fact four if you count Kamran as an opener, they should have selected a middle-order batsman or a bowling all-rounder like Shahid Afridi.
I think it is unjust to drop Shahid at this stage. Perhaps, the selection committee gave too much weight to the opinion of the team management. They could easily have left out either Ehsan Adil or Asad Ali as you don’t need five fast bowlers for a tournament, specially when you have world class spinners like Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman playing a definite role.
The current composition of squad has left Pakistan batting more vulnerable and there will be a lot more pressure on captain Misbah and young Asad Shafiq to hold the innings together and carry the burden.
If you take into consideration that it has been the Pakistan batting that has been struggling in the recent past, then there should have been more solid batsmen in the side and a couple of all-rounders to fire at crucial junctures.
Pakistan will have to play one of the three openers at number three and if Kamran Akmal is asked to open the innings then the situation is more complicated. In that situation, I feel, Younis’s omission can also prove costly.
The most debated question, of course, is whether to include Shahid Afridi or not? While one can agree that Shahid has not taken a single wicket in the last ODI series, his contribution with the bat against South Africa was not all that bad. With an innings of 34 and a brilliant 88 in the third ODI, Shahid was the second best run-getter behind Misbah-ul Haq in the five-match series.
If runs alone was the yardstick then how the selection of Hafeez (118 in five ODIs), Nasir Jamshed (20 in two ODIs), Shoaib Malik (105 in four ODIs) and Kamran Akmal (109 in five ODIs) could be justified.
Even if the recently-concluded President’s Cup was the yardstick for selection, then Nasir failed there as well. He managed just 35 in four games while Riffatullah Mohmand and Khurram Manzoor hit three and two centuries respectively. Batting all-rounder Sohaib Maqsood was also overlooked despite showing great form in the President’s Cup.
I firmly believe that a more balanced squad could have been put together for the tough ICC event but, unfortunately, that has not happened.