Practice games for World Twenty20 May 20, 2009

Faisal Iqbal 'heart-broken' after being axed

Faisal Iqbal says he is "heartbroken" after being overlooked for a series of three practice Twenty20 matches in Lahore starting from Wednesday.

The board named two teams for the warm-up games designed to help Pakistan's 15-man squad to prepare for next month's World Twenty20 in England. Though he was part of the 30 probables named initially for the squad, Iqbal was dropped and then wasn't picked for the practice games. And he says he doesn't understand why he is being typecast as a Test player only.

"We are centrally contracted players so I can't say too much obviously, but I don't understand what's happening with me," Iqbal told Cricinfo. "I'm not criticising anyone but I'm really hurt by this. I thought, fine if I don't make the World Cup squad, at least I can prove myself in the practice matches but I haven't even been picked for that. I believe that being part of the preliminary squad for the Twenty20 World Cup, I deserve a chance to at least play the practice matches."

Though Iqbal averages nearly 40 in domestic limited-overs matches, he has become - much to his own frustration - a Test specialist to a succession of selection committees. He played the last of his 18 ODIs against West Indies in December 2006 even as Pakistan's ODI batting has often suffered since then after the exits of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf; he has yet to play a Twenty20 international. In contrast, he has been a regular in the Test set-up since January 2007.

"I'm performing in Tests because I am getting a chance to play them," he said. "If you don't give a guy a chance in another format how will you know how good he is or not? Anyway I feel totally comfortable in any format. Twenty20 cricket is in my veins anyway because that is what we grow up playing in Karachi's streets, these 5-10 over, or 20-over matches. I am confused - how do I prove myself to them?"

Barring exceptional circumstances, Iqbal will not be playing in the World Twenty20 in June, but he will have a chance to show selectors what they might be missing in the RBS Twenty20 Cup, due to start on May 25. "I was looking through some old stuff recently and found an old ODI green shirt of mine. It just made me wonder when I'll be wearing it again. I am heartbroken about it."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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