x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Selection dilemma for Pakistan

Younus Khan made a change to a winning combination and it backfired. With the pressure on them to win the series, will they revert back?

ABU DHABI // Pakistan face a selection quandary for tomorrow's series finale against New Zealand after suffering a barrage of criticism over the demotion of the teenage prodigy Umar Akmal. The 19-year-old middle-order batsman, the brother of wicket-keeper Kamran, was forced to make way for the return of Shoaib Malik, ahead of the defeat in Friday's second one-day international. Though he had failed to contribute to the opening game, which Pakistan won convincing, Akmal was thought to have established his place in the side via his fine introduction to the international game.

Abdul Qadir, who is no friend of the current management team having rebuked them when he stepped down from his role as chief selector this summer, was disappointed by the youngster's absence. "How can you drop a batsman when he has impressed all around the world with his brilliant temperament?" said the leg-spin great. "It will only shatter his confidence and we might lose such a talented player if he continuously gets such treatment in the team."

Intikhab Alam, the Pakistan coach, reasoned that Malik had only been rested for the opening game and that the experience of the former captain is crucial to the side. The coach, too, had to bear the brunt for the failed decision to elevate Shahid Afridi up to No4 in the order. The all-rounder made a second-ball duck, and Pakistan's run-chase faltered thereafter. "If Afridi could have got a quick 30 or 40 it would have been much easier," said Intikhab. "At times it works, at times it doesn't work. It is part of the game. "The way Afridi and [Kamran] Akmal batted in that first match, you do expect a lot from them because they are classy players, unfortunately it didn't work out this time." pradley@thenational.ae Pakistan v New Zealand, third one-day international. Zayed Stadium, 3 pm. Ten Sports