By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
It’s an open secret that Sarfaraz Ahmed has had to battle harder than normal cricketers in any part of the world to retain his place in the national team across formats. Despite having exceptional track record he has been forced to prove his worth time and again. This boy of steely nerves from Karachi deserves to be praised lavishly for having silenced his critics with performances more than once in his international career.
After his fairytale comeback in the Test arena only a few months ago it was logical to have him in the limited overs matches as well, particularly One-day Internationals where accomplished batsmen like him are more likely to deliver than dashers or power hitters. Not surprisingly, he is being treated harshly once more.
It’s mind-boggling to find his name still missing in the scheme of things for the ODI line-up. The kind of awesome form and fitness he displayed in the Test series against New Zealand had made him an automatic choice for the ODIs but for some strange reasons, which include petty politics, he was been kept on the sidelines once more.
He was scoring consistently in first-class cricket all along and yet he was kept out of the Test side for four years which can only be described as madness and nothing else. Quite remarkably Waqar Younis, as evidenced by his comments on air, was still not impressed with the accomplishments of the guy he had tormented or even victimized when he was the national coach.
He was the man, alongwith skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, to have prevented him from playing in the early part of the 2015 World Cup. Sarfaraz was kept out of the playing eleven and it had needed the intervention of the then PCB chief, Shaharyar Khan, to get him in. The rest is history as we all know.
Now another lobby with vested interests seems proactive in creating more hurdles for Sarfaraz to demoralize him. With the 2023 World Cup not very far away, these elements will be eager to keep him away from the squad. It is upto the PCB top brass to ensure fair chance to the man who made them proud with outstanding performance on Test return not very long ago.
It’s a sheer nonsense to suggest that only one wicketkeeper-batsman can be a part of the playing eleven. Many teams are having more than one such all-rounder and they are getting the results. Therefore keeping Sarfaraz out of the team on the pretext of having someone else around for the same role makes no sense. He should be in the ODI team. No question about it.
Sarfaraz is very much needed in the Pakistan XI because he has mastered the art of accumulating runs. He remains an exceptional wicketkeeper whose batting prowess is the much-needed insurance for the national team which has often struggled in putting runs on the board.
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