Muhammad Hafeez, Director of the Pakistan team, revealed that Shaheen Shah Afridi approached him with a request to take a break from the third and final Test against Australia at Sydney, contrary to the belief that it was the team management’s decision to rest the left-arm pacer. Australia defeated Pakistan by eight wickets at SCG on Saturday to complete a 3-0 series win. “We took the decision to rest Shaheen and manage his workload because we didn’t want his body to be adversely affected,” Hafeez said after the third Test against Australia.
The decision to rest Afridi for the final Test came as a surprise to the Pakistani cricket community.
Pakistan fast bowling greats, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, also tore into the team management for their decision to rest Afridi for the Test.
In the wake of the hue and cry on the first day of the Sydney Test, Afridi had told the host broadcasters that the team management and support staff felt he should rest from the match.
However, Hafeez said Afridi has shouldered a massive workload since his return from injury last year, and he deserved a break.
“We felt it was best if we could give him a break and manage his workload. I don’t know what’s happened previously, but at this time, I wanted to make sure that no bowler’s career is spoiled because their workload is not being managed,” Hafeez said.
The former all-rounder also insisted that Afridi’s rest from the Sydney Test had no connection with him being named as the Pakistan captain for the five-match T20I series in New Zealand, starting from January 12.
“Shaheen did not rest as he wanted to play T20 cricket. It’s clear that his body was a bit sore. He wasn’t feeling very comfortable that his body would be able to respond appropriately.
As the team director, I have to ensure that no player goes into a zone where he suffers an injury,” Hafeez said.
Hafeez also dropped a hint that premier batter Babar Azam also could be rested, if the need arises.
“We have utmost confidence in Babar’s ability to perform even though he is going through a lean patch. But if it is needed, he can be given a break. But we will speak to him to find out what he wants,” Hafeez added.
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