Pakistan on Monday axed Shahid Afridi from their 15-man squad for the Champions Trophy following the all-rounder’s below-par performances in South Africa and a domestic competition.
The 33-year-old, who still holds the world record of fastest one-day-international (ODI) century — off 37 balls made against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in 1996 — has not taken a single wicket in his past six ODIs.
Undoubtedly the most popular player in Pakistan recently, Afridi has hit just two half-centuries in his last 15 one-day innings, while managing a mere 70 runs and three wickets in four matches for his domestic side this month.
He was also dropped from the one-day squad for last year’s tour of India before making a comeback to the team for the limited-over series against South Africa last month, where his top-score of 88 came in a losing cause.
Pakistan chief selector Iqbal Qasim said Afridi had not been in good form recently.
“Afridi had been selected as a bowling all-rounder, but he was not up to the mark and couldn’t score at crucial occasions, so we had to leave him out,” Qasim said.
“His [Afridi’s] career is not finished, if he performs at domestic level, he can stage a comeback,” said Qasim, a former left-arm spinner.
Afridi has 7,201 runs and 348 wickets in 354 ODIs.
Pakistan is to be led by Misbah-ul-Haq in the eight-nation Champions Trophy to be played in England from June 6.
They are drawn in group B alongside archrivals India, the West Indies and South Africa. They play the West Indies at The Oval in London, on June 7 before squaring off with South Africa (June 10) and India (June 15).
Defending champions Australia, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand form group A.
The squad are also to play two ODIs each against Ireland and Scotland this month before the Champions Trophy.
Besides Afridi, Pakistan had already left out experienced batsman Younis Khan from the initial squad of 30 announced last month, paving the way for 23-year-old Umar Amin and left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman.
Amin, a left-hander who also bowls right-arm medium pace, played four Tests and three ODIs in 2010.
Pakistan have also included pacemen Ehsan Adil, 20, and Asad Ali, 24, in a fast-bowling attack which will be without experienced Umar Gul, who was ruled out due to a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Australian coach Trent Woodhill was appointed on Monday to help solve Pakistan’s perennial batting problems.
The 42-year-old was involved with the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League in Australia and is part of the Delhi Daredevils’ support staff in the ongoing Indian Premier League.
He was also the New Zealand cricket team’s assistant until last year.
Pakistan Cricket Board’s director of international cricket Intikhab Alam said Woodhill brings rich experience as a batting and fielding expert.
“We have appointed Woodhill as our national team’s batting coach for a period of three weeks and he will help the team during the Champions Trophy,” Alam said.