All-rounder Shahid Afridi is a major injury doubt for Pakistan ahead of their Twenty20 series against Australia in Dubai.
“You must have witnessed it yesterday — Shahid had a thumb injury, where his left thumb was wounded quite badly, the skin tore off and blood was oozing quite profusely,” team manager Colonel Naveed Akram Cheema told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s received about two stitches. The doctors intend to examine the intensity of the wound [and] how far can it be healed.”
“We haven’t taken a decision yet [on whether he will be fit for the first match on Wednesday],” Cheema said.
Afridi had the injury bandaged and was able to complete his 10-over spell in Monday night’s third and final one-day international (ODI) in Sharjah, but his bowling was ineffective and he took 0-62 as Australia won the match by three wickets to seal a 2-1 series win.
The absence of Afridi, who missed last Friday’s second match of the ODI series with a back injury, would be a major blow to Pakistan as both sides prepare for the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 that starts in Sri Lanka in less than two weeks.
Afridi was man-of-the-match in the semi-final and final when Pakistan won the World Twenty20 tournament in 2009 in England, and he has taken more wickets in the shortest international format of the game than any other player in history — 58.
If Afridi is absent, more responsibility is likely to fall on his fellow spinner Saeed Ajmal and also fast bowler Umar Gul, recalled after being left out of the ODIs.
Gul (55) and Ajmal (54) are -second and third on the list of all-time Twenty20 international wicket-takers behind Afridi, but captain Mohammed Hafeez said his side’s hopes would depend on the team rather than individual brilliance.
“Yes, Umar Gul is a match winner and he has done a great job for Pakistan over the years, but everyone has to play their role to win a game and we’re not depending on one particular player,” Hafeez said.
Australia welcome back 19-year-old fast bowler Patrick Cummins after the latest in a series of injury problems that has restricted him to six limited-overs matches since he took seven wickets on his Test debut against South Africa in November last year.
“It’s going to be particularly important, especially once we get to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20] to have that genuine out-and-out pace,” Australia captain George Bailey told reporters.