Pakistan news March 23, 2010

Afridi tipped to be Pakistan captain

Cricinfo staff

Shahid Afridi is expected to be announced Pakistan's captain today for their defense of the world title in the Caribbean in April-May. Reports suggest that Afridi will meet the PCB chairman Ijaz Butt in Lahore on Tuesday where he will be told of the decision; he is then expected to lead the Pakistan side out in their Twenty20 match against the winners of the match between Pakistan A and the Pakistan U19 side earlier in the day.

The News said that Afridi was told on Monday by a board official that Butt would meet him just about an hour before the match at the Gaddafi Stadium, held to mark Pakistan Day. Pakistan announced a 15-man squad for the ICC World Twenty20 earlier this month but didn't name a captain, following a spate of disciplinary brushes with senior players including Afridi.

In normal circumstances Afridi would have been the automatic choice for captain, given that he was appointed as such after Younis Khan stepped down from the format last year. But Pakistan's boat was rocked when Afridi tampered publicly with the ball during an ODI in Perth - where he was captain - by biting it. That led to a two-game ban by the ICC and then a Rs3 million fine by an angry board. In between Shoaib Malik captained Pakistan for three T20Is in Afridi's place.

"I don't know whether they would choose me as captain but if they do I will give my best to lead my team to another title," Afridi told The News. "We have a very good team and I'm sure that the boys will give their best in the West Indies."

With other senior players also out of the side - including Malik, who would have been a candidate - options for the board are not exactly bursting out. The names of Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq and Salman Butt have also cropped up as alternatives and Misbah and Razzaq have both expressed an interest in the role.

But if the board is happy to finally stop punishing Afridi - denying him the captaincy would, in effect, be the third punishment for the same offence - then it is hardly a contest. Afridi is far and away Pakistan's most effective player in the format, leading Pakistan with his performances to a runners-up and winner's spot in 2007 and 2009, and his natural aggression has long thought to be a handy leadership tool.

During the meeting, the newspaper said, Afridi is also expected to submit his appeal against the fine imposed by the PCB.