Happy with Sarfaraz's performance but Rizwan is our first choice - Afridi

Only one wicket-keeper was included in the 16-member squad for three ODIs against New Zealand

Happy with Sarfaraz's performance but Rizwan is our first choice - Afridi PHOTO: PCB/AFP

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s interim chief selector Shahid Afridi has backed Mohammad Rizwan over Sarfaraz Ahmed as the prime wicketkeeper of men’s national team. 

“I’m very happy that Saifi has made a comeback and given such amazing performance, but Mohammad Rizwan is available and he is our main wicket-keeper in both T20Is and ODIs,” said Afridi in a press conference on Thursday. 

Sarfaraz Ahmed was not included in the 16-member ODI squad announced by the selection committee for the three-match series against New Zealand in Karachi. 

While answering a question regarding Sarfaraz's non-inclusion, Afridi said they’ll consider him only if Rizwan in unavailable. “God forbid if Rizwan gets injured or if he’s tired, we’ll then consider other options. Let’s not mix someone’s Test performance with that of limited overs,” he said. 

The former cricketer said they are also considering other wicket-keeping options in limited overs. “We have (Mohammad) Haris and we’re grooming him,” he said. 

“He’ll be sent on Pakistan A tours. He’s a very good option in T20Is if Rizwan is not available.”

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Three uncapped players have been added to the limited-overs squad including Kamran Ghulam, Tayyab Tahir and Usama Mir. 

Afridi, however, suggested that the newcomers should only get a chance if the series outcome is apparent after the first two ODIs. 

“We have so many seniors in the team and we can’t have them warming the bench while junior youngsters play,” he said. “But if we win the first two successive ODIs, we’ll consider giving them a chance.” 

Pakistan’s vice-captain Shadab Khan has been ruled out of the ODI squad for the upcoming series due to injury. 

“I spoke to Shadab and while he sounded reluctant. He said he could play the ODIs against NZ,” Afridi said. 

“I asked him to take the ball next morning and see where he stands. He bowled today morning and was not feeling comfortable in his finger, so we are resting him and giving Usama Mir a chance.” 

Pakistan will play three ODIs against New Zealand starting from Jan 9 to Jan 13 at National Bank Cricket Arena in Karachi.