Afridi hints Akhtar will have limited role in World Cup

Karachi: Pakistan one-day captain Shahid Afridi has indicated a limited role for experienced fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the remaining matches in New Zealand and next month`s World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

After Pakistan`s win over New Zealand in Christchurch yesterday, Afridi said that Akhtar was left out of the match as he still needed to work harder on his fitness and form.

"Shoaib might be given a chance to play if we manage to win the series in the next two games," Afridi said.

"He is working hard in the nets and our coach Waqar Younis is spending lot of time with him. It is clear he still needs to work hard on his fitness and form," Afridi added.

The seasoned fast bowler played in the first one-dayer that Pakistan lost and was then left out in the next two matches indicating a reduced role for him in the coming World Cup.

Afridi made his impressions about Shoaib clear after the first one-dayer when he said that he thought the fast bowler had struggled in the match and their might be changes in the remaining matches.

Pakistan preferred to play Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanvir in the second and third ODIs.

"Shoaib needs to be match fit and should train. [Coach] Waqar Younis is working hard with him," Afridi maintained.

Shoaib didn`t play in the last World Cup because of doping offence and fitness issues but featured in the 1999 and 2003 World Cups making an impact in some of the matches.

The 35-year-old fast bowler who has taken 242 wickets in 158 one-day internationals has been a regular member of the T20 and ODI teams since last year and is said to be one of the main players who are supporting Afridi for the World Cup captaincy.

Sources within the team said that Afridi and Waqar appear to now think that in the sub-continental conditions in the World Cup, it would be better to bank on the younger pace bowlers instead of Shoaib who would have a limited role to play in what should be his last World Cup.

Afridi also said after the third ODI in which he starred with a cracking 65 from 25 balls that the team management would not follow a rotation policy in the remaining three one-day games in New Zealand.

"There will be no rotation policy and we will play our best team because we want to win this series and the more matches we win it will mean we will go into the World Cup with our confidence and morale sky high," he added.

The flamboyant allrounder said that other teams might be opting for a rotation policy to prepare for the World Cup but the Pakistan team management first wanted to be sure about its best first eleven combination for the World Cup.

"If we manage to win the series in New Zealand then we will think about rotating players," he said.