x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Shahid Afridi in line to return for Pakistan for ODI series in UAE

Former captain is hopeful of a return to international cricket this month following positive talks with the new head of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

ISLAMABAD // Pakistan fans in the UAE may get the chance to see Shahid Afridi, the former captain, play after all, following a positive meeting with the new head of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

After an hour-long meeting with Zaka Ashraf in Lahore today, Afridi said he is "very positive" about returning to international cricket and joining up with teammates already in the UAE to play against Sri Lanka in the five-match one-day international (ODI) series in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah later this month.

"I'm very positive after sharing my views with the new [PCB] chairman," Afridi said.

The enigmatic all-rounder quit international cricket after falling out with former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt and Waqar Younis, the former head coach, soon after winning an ODI series against West Indies earlier this year.

Afridi started legal action to get the required permission to play for English county Hampshire before reaching an out of court settlement with the PCB. Afridi later announced he could only play for Pakistan ahagain once the PCB top management was changed.

Ashraf, who took over from Butt last month, had said he wanted to see Afridi back in action in the one-day and Twenty20 cricket formats. But the new PCB chief also wanted to consult other senior PCB officials.

On Wednesday, interim chief selector Mohammad Ilyas also joined Afridi and Ashraf during the meeting.

"They didn't directly say when I would be selected, but I am quite confident that I will soon return to international cricket," Afridi said.

Afridi said that he is no longer interested in captaining the side and just wants to play for Pakistan and work under Misbah-ul-Haq, the new captain in all formats.

"Now I just want to enjoy cricket and play for Pakistan," he said. "He [Misbah] helped me a lot during the World Cup. Now the question is not the captaincy, the real question is to play for Pakistan and that's all what I want to do."

Afridi led Pakistan to the World Cup semi-finals before losing to arch rivals India.

The PCB, meanwhile, is in the process of recruiting a new head coach after nominating Mohsin Khan, the chief selector, as the interim coach for the series against Sri Lanka.

The new PCB chief wanted to have three specialist coaches for the national team – bowling, batting and fielding. That concept has Afridi's support.

"The only thing I like to see is that all three coaches should have done specialized courses in their respective fields," he said.

"That's the only way they could be held accountable."