Afridi, Yousuf Will Have To Prove Form: Iqbal

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LAHORE – Emphasizing that fitness and form will be the only criteria to select the Pakistan team for the upcoming tour to India, chief selector Iqbal Qasim on Friday claimed that the same rule would be implemented in the cases of veterans like Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Yousuf.

“The team for the limited-overs series in India will be selected on the players’ performance they will show in the National Twenty20 Cup [being held from Dec 3 to 9). And even cricketers like Afridi and Yousuf will have to prove their form and fitness to earn the selectors’ nod [for India tour],” Iqbal said while talking to reporters here at the LCCA ground where he conducted the trials to select Lahore region teams for the Twenty20 Cup and the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. Pakistan is scheduled to tour India from Dec 22 for a bilateral limited-overs series comprising three One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 matches.

“Yousuf is willing to play for Pakistan and the National Twenty20 Cup will provide him a chance to prove his form and fitness,” Iqbal added. 

Afridi has been passing through a lean period with bat and ball for the last many months. Though both Yousuf and Afridi were willing to participate in the ongoing President’s Trophy to show their form, the PCB did not allow them citing their names had not been included in the initial 25-member list of their respective departmental squads.

Given the fact that Afridi has been under tremendous pressure to register impressive performance as all-rounder at the international level, the forthcoming National Twenty20 Cup may well prove to be a make-or-break point for his international career.

Yousuf also has slim chances to impress the selectors for the India tour, since he has not featured in any competitive cricket during the last two years.

“The tour to India is important for the Pakistan team for which a best possible team will be picked,” Iqbal, a former Test spinner, remarked. “A ten-day training camp for the selected players will also be held before the team’s departure to India.”

Meanwhile, Iqbal watched the trials along with another national selector Farrukh Zaman and former Test captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was representing the Lahore Region as a selector.

“Though the tour of India is tough, I think if Pakistan players concentrate on cricket, ignoring other unnecessary off-the-field activities [in India], they can win the series,” Inzamam, a veteran of 120 Tests, stated.

“The boys should avoid fans, their invitation for functions, if they want to give 100 per cent performance for Pakistan to beat India on their soil.”

Expressing his readiness to accept the post of Pakistan team’s batting coach, the former master batsman reckoned coaches holding Level-I, II or III certification could not be the alternative for experienced Test cricketers.

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