Pakistan news November 3, 2011

Afridi 'strong, fit and in good shape'

Shahid Afridi has said he is "strong, fit and in good shape" to come back from the "wild period" he spent out of the Pakistan limited-overs sides due to his conditional retirement.

Afridi had made himself available for selection after Zaka Ashraf succeeded Ijaz Butt as PCB chairman and was named on Wednesday in the ODI and Twenty20 squads for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka in the UAE. His selection came hours after he met with Ashraf in Lahore.

"I found Zaka a very cooperative person," Afridi said. "Though he is not a cricketer, I feel he can understand cricketers' problems and is good at managing things. I feel he will do the best for the interests of cricket in the country."

Afridi last played for Pakistan in the West Indies in May, when he had a public falling-out with the coach Waqar Younis. He was replaced by Misbah-ul-Haq as captain in the limited-overs formats, after which he announced his retirement, saying that he would not play for Pakistan under that administration. Waqar subsequently resigned as coach after the tour of Zimbabwe and Butt ended his term as PCB chairman in October, clearing the way for Afridi's comeback. Afridi said he still had "a lot to offer".

"It's obviously very tough to be out in such a manner. It indeed was a very difficult time and I am happy that I am back," Afridi said. "I am strong, fit and in good shape to cover the wild period I had lost during the time of retirement.

"I was well supported by the seniors in the team and also by Misbah, which is really good. Now I am ready to contribute in the team as a senior player."

Afridi had wasted no time in pushing his case, requesting a meeting with Zaka on the day the new PCB chairman took office. The selectors, too, wasted little time in picking the allrounder.

"I met with Afridi before his selection and we had a positive meeting," interim chief selector Mohammad Ilyas said. "He is like a son to me and I believe his selection isn't unfair."

Though he hasn't played international cricket for five months, Afridi has not been short of match practice. He played for Hampshire in the Friends Life t20 in England. "I am not rusty at all as I kept myself busy playing cricket," he said. "I am focusing on maintaining my all-round abilities. I had a successful county stint, which gave me ample confidence of doing well in both departments."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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