Opening combo still a worry for Afridi's men
Despite putting in his best, Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad knows that if he doesn't deliver against Zimbabwe in the crucial Group 'A' tie, he might not get another chance in the World Cup. Amol Karhadkar reports.india Updated: Mar 14, 2011 00:40 IST
As Ahmed Shehzad lay on the ground with his hands in the air, after being bombarded with high catches by bowling coach Aaqib Javed, the 19-year-old appeared to have surrendered after a gruelling three-hour training session.
However, despite putting in his best, the Pakistan opener knows that if he doesn't deliver against Zimbabwe in the crucial Group 'A' tie, he might not get another chance in the World Cup.
Riding on centuries in the ODI series against New Zealand and a Cup warm-up tie against Bangladesh, Shehzad came in as one of the rookies to watch out for. However, in four innings, the right-hander has managed just 36 runs at a pedestrian strike rate of 45.
What's even more disconcerting is the form of Mohammad Hafeez, the other opener. While Shehzad, who has been warned by coach Waqar Younis about discipline and conduct, is struggling to come to terms with the pressure, Hafeez, the senior pro, hasn't fared any better.
He has scored 21 runs more than Hafeez in four outings. With the openers failing to get their team off to a decent start, it's not a surprise that the top order has failed.
On the eve of the Zimbabwe game, more than wondering about the Akmal brothers, skipper Shahid Afridi was concerned with the opening pair.
"It's a very good combination (of openers) but the boys are not performing," he said. "We are trying to give them confidence to perform. I have already told them 'play to your strengths, like you do in domestic cricket'."
When Hafeez and Shehzad, if he gets another opportunity, take guard at the Pallekele International Stadium, they would know the hard work would come to naught if they can't come up with a handy contribution.
Umar ruled out
If the bruised index finger on the right hand wasn't enough, Umar Akmal suffered an injury on the left ankle during a game of football on Sunday.