SHARJAH // As if a 3-0 drubbing in the Test series and a less-than-useful opening to their limited-overs campaign was not bad enough, England suffered more chastening news on Friday.
Shahid Afridi is back, and has gathered no rust since he has been away.
Given England's travails against spin over the past month, the last thing they need now is to be faced with another high-quality slow bowler, especially as one as effervescent as Afridi.
The storied all-rounder's spinning fingers are in good working order, judging by his haul of five for 36 in Pakistan's seven-wicket win over Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
He has taken 10 wickets in his past two matches at this ground, which has lifted him to second in the list of leading wicket-takers among spinners in one-day internationals, behind Muttiah Muralitharan.
"The atmosphere in the dressing room is very good, and I know I have a responsibility to play well," Afridi said.
While Afridi has retained his form in spite of his absence from the Test side, Younis Khan picked up from where he left off in the long format.
The former captain's sparkling hundred in Dubai essentially clinched the whitewash for Pakistan, and he was in similarly serene form here as he made 70.