'There are concerns... hopefully, he can play Asia Cup': Babar Azam provides major update on star player's fitness

Updated on Aug 11, 2022 07:46 PM IST

Pakistan will tour to Netherlands for a three-match ODI series starting from August 16 onwards.

Pakistan's cricket team skipper Babar Azam (AP)
Pakistan's cricket team skipper Babar Azam (AP)
By, New Delhi

Star Pakistan bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi was retained in both the squads for the Netherlands assignment after missing out on last month’s Test against Sri Lanka because of a knee injury. The 22-year-old fast bowler missed the second Test against the islanders with a bruised knee, which was a result of him diving to cut off a boundary during the first red-ball match in Galle. Afridi was taken for scans and although there was no fracture, swelling and pain ruled him out.

As Pakistan gear up for the ODI series against the Netherlands, skipper Babar Azam has provided a crucial update on Afridi's fitness. Babar said that the left-arm speedster hasn't fully recovered but he remains in the squad, with the Asia Cup and the World T20 lined up.

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Afridi's rehabilitation programme will be overseen by the team doctor and physiotherapist, who will then decide on his return to international cricket.

“There are concerns over Shaheen’s fitness. We are taking him along because the doctor and the physio are travelling with the team, so he can be looked after well. We are thinking from a long-term perspective. There is the Asia Cup and the World Cup as well," Babar said during a pre-departure press conference.

“We are trying to ensure he can get ready as soon as possible. We are hoping that he can play at least one match in the Netherlands. If not, then hopefully he can play in the Asia Cup."

Babar's side will begin their Asia Cup campaign on August 28 against arch-rivals India in a Sunday blockbuster in Dubai. The Pakistan captain also spoke about Shoaib Malik, confirming that the veteran batter would not be recalled for the six-team competition.

"After consultation with the coach and selectors, the best team has been selected. The Asia Cup is immediately after the Netherlands tour, so there is no possibility of a change in the team," Babar said.

"Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will be missed in the upcoming Asia Cup but Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed are players of these numbers and they have performed well. We will utilize Shadab Khan's batting form and will look to have strong batting depth," he added.

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