Pakistan news November 5, 2012

Afridi turns to first-class cricket in bid to regain form

Shahid Afridi has decided to end a nearly four-year hiatus from domestic first-class cricket in a bid to regain his form ahead of the India series next month. Afridi will represent Habib Bank Limited in the ongoing President's Trophy, after last having played for them in January 2009.

"We understand he [Afridi] has been struggling with his form and obviously he has to play quality cricket to regain it," a spokesman from HBL sports department told ESPNcricinfo. "Unfortunately there is no limited-overs cricket being played at the moment and the on-going first-class tournament is the way out for him to get engaged to change his dipping form."

Afridi is currently in the middle of a severe form trough, highlighted at the recent World Twenty20. He made only 30 runs in six matches, and picked up four wickets at 42.75. In ODIs this year, he has scored 182 runs in 16 matches and taken 15 wickets at 43.13 (including a five-for against the lightweights of Afghanistan).

Pakistan's exit from the semi-final in the World Twenty20 has drawn criticism from several former players, with some blaming Afridi's poor form as the primary reason for the team's failure to reach the final.

Afridi will join the HBL squad in place of Pakistan left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, who is currently serving his 12 weeks ban for using recreational drug cannabis during his stint with Somerset in the English domestic season. "Though Afridi's name wasn't listed in 20-man probables for the team, he can take the place of Rehman to play the rest of the rounds ahead of the India series," the spokesman said.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent