Ex-Indian opener Sidhu says omitting Afridi for Champions Trophy `a huge blunder`
Karachi: Former Indian opener Navjot Sidhu has called the omitting Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi for the ICC Champions Trophy as a `huge blunder`, saying that Afridi`s absence had a big part in Pakistan`s dismal show in the tournament, which ended after a thrashing at the hands of India in Birmingham.
Although Afridi has only scored 142 runs and taken just three wickets in nine one-days in the past year, however, Sidhu said that he believed that the all-rounder`s presence in the side would have been an advantage for Pakistan on the field as the team ended the tournament failing to win a single match.
Stating that Afridi is a world-class player, Sidhu said that although the player was not in form, he would have performed his best in a big tournament like the Champions Trophy, adding that by leaving Afridi out, Pakistan handed half the advantage to the opposition even before taking the field.
Sidhu further said that Afridi would have come in handy as Pakistan was missing an all-rounder as well as someone with the ability to use the long handle lower down in the order.
Ruing the inconsequential nature of the India-Pakistan clash at Edgbaston, Sidhu further said that he was disappointed by Pakistan`s dismal batting performance in the tournament, adding that the batsmen were hesitant, defensive and lacked confidence, even the senior ones.
However, Sidhu gave his approval to Pakistan`s bowling line-up, especially a `rejuvenated` Wahab Riaz, saying that although he was also impressed with Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal, Wahab`s speed and ability to move the ball has made him an interesting bowler to look at.
Stating that the Indo-Pakistan clash did not live up to its pre-tournament hype because there was not enough at stake, Sidhu also said that he expected the Pakistani batsmen to have done enough for the team, adding that that way there might have been a better game with perhaps elimination or progress riding on the outcome.
India eased to an eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston on Saturday in a match that was disrupted by frequent rain-delays, the report added.