Chief selector Iqbal Qasim has defended the axing of opener Ahmed Shehzad from the Pakistan squad for the Twenty20 Internationals against Australia and for the T20 World Cup, saying that the selectors had preferred a more experienced player to him.
Shehzad's axing from the Twenty20 squad after he was recalled for the T20 matches against Sri Lanka early last month has come as a surprise to many in Pakistani cricket circles with speculation that he has once again been sidelined on disciplinary grounds.
Qasim, however, defended Shehzad's axing by stating that his replacement Imran Nazir was a more experienced player and had been in fine form besides being a specialist T20 player.
"We are banking on experience to do well against Australia and in the T20 World Cup, that is why we have also recalled Kamran (Akmal) and Abdul Razzaq and stuck with Yasir Arafat," Qasim said.
Shehzad has a history of disciplinary issues since he played for the national youth team. He was recalled to the national T20 squad for the Sri Lanka tour after a string of impressive performances in domestic cricket and in the Bangladesh Premier League.
He was even reported for misbehaviour and unbecoming conduct by a Pakistani ambassador posted in a foreign country where the national team had gone to play.
A source in the Board also said that captain Mohammad Hafeez did not want Shehzad in his team.
"Hafeez was not very comfortable with having Shehzad in his side and instead preferred Imran Nazir," the source said.
Another media report has also claimed that Shehzad was under scrutiny after Hafeez complained about his slow batting in the first T20 against Sri Lanka.
Shehzad himself denied all these and insisted he was in his best behaviour in Sri Lanka as he wanted to revive his Pakistan career.
"You can ask the Board or team manager," said the 20-year old Shehzad who has appeared in 19 ODIs and eight T20 Internationals.