Shaheen Afridi be rested for the final game in Sydney to keep him fresh for the crucial T20I series in New Zealand.
Pakistan pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi may be rested for the third and final Test against Australia in Sydney to manage his workload following the angry backlash the PCB faced after Khurrum Shahzad suffered a serious rib cage injury. Pakistan lost the opening Test at Perth by 360 runs with debutant Shahzad taking five wickets but he also got injured in the process and was ruled out of the Melbourne (December 26) and Sydney (January 3) Tests.
Pakistan’s strike bowler Afridi took just two wickets in Perth and the thinking is that, if the visitors also lose the Boxing Day Test, he will be rested for the final game in Sydney to keep him fresh for the crucial T20I series in New Zealand.
A source said that the team management wants to manage the workload of the pace bowlers, especially Afridi, as the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA is less than six months away and the series against the Blackcaps will be crucial to their preparations.
“The backlash the board and management is facing over the handling of Khurrum’s workload has set off panic buttons, plus the form of Shaheen has added to the concerns of the team management and selectors,” the source said.
The source added that team officials and selectors had discussed Afridi’s case with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Zaka Ashraf.
“It is in the pipeline that if Shaheen doesn’t do well in Melbourne Test and the team ends up on the losing side, he will be rested for the final Test so that he is fresh for the T20I series in New Zealand,” the source said.
Pakistan are already without key pacer Naseem Shah, who is recovering from a shoulder surgery. Ehsanullah is rehabilitating following an elbow surgery and Muhammad Hasnain is nursing an ankle injury.
Pakistan have lost two key bowlers, spinner Abrar Ahmed and Khurrum, since they arrived in Australia.
There is also talk of the team management trying out a new opening combination of Saim Ayub and Babar Azam during the T20I series in New Zealand. Babar, who has been opening with Muhammad Rizwan in T20s for the last two-three years, has been told to be prepared for a new opening partner.