'I am still better than lots of players' - Afridi
Pakistan allrounder Shahid Afridi's ODI career has a question mark hanging over it after he was dropped twice in the last six months following poor runs, but he remains hopeful of making a comeback for the upcoming West Indies series and is keen on playing both shorter formats.
In the 21 ODIs he has played since January 2012, Afridi has picked up 15 wickets at 57.13 and scored 308 runs at 19.25. While he is an automatic selection in the Twenty20 squad, he last made an ODI comeback on the tour to South Africa earlier this year, where he remained wicketless and scored 126 in four innings with a high score of 88. He was subsequently dropped from the Champions Trophy, and has not played competitive cricket since April.
Now, though, he is pushing himself hard to be ready for the West Indies series that begins with a practice one-dayer on July 11. He has been training at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore over the past couple of weeks, and he passed the fitness test he was subjected to. The Pakistan selectors will meet in Lahore on Wednesday afternoon to finalise the squad, and Afridi said he still had the desire and skills to make the team. "I am doing my best and working so hard in the nets at the National Cricket Academy over the past two-three weeks. I have working on many areas of the game and I want to play both [shorter] forms of the game.
"I think I am still better than lots of players; there should be professional jealousy in me. I know how important my performance is as a senior player for the team. You can't judge a player based only on Twenty20 performance."
Dropping "match-winners", Afridi said, was not the way to go. Key players, he said, even when they lose form, should "stay with the team". "Poor form doesn't really reflect that a player is at the wrong side of his game," he said. "Those players who are around with the team for years and are also match-winners should be kept with the team to boost their confidence. Teams are carrying their match-winners like David Warner [despite him being suspended]. You can't be in form if you stay out of the team."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here