Waqar Younis hinted that Shahid Afridi would be named Pakistan's captain for the World Cup following their 41 run victory over New Zealand at Seddon Park. Pakistan are the only team who have not named their captain for the tournament that starts in 17 days, and Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's Test captain, were believed to be the frontrunners for the position.
When asked whether he believed Afridi would retain the captaincy following a successful one day series in New Zealand, Waqar responded: "It's a difficult question but I think so - let's just put it that way."
Waqar had been issued a show cause notice by the PCB asking him to explain his remarks after he had claimed that it "would have been better" if the selectors had named a captain along with the final squad and that not doing so "would only lead to issues."
Former Pakistan captain Moin Khan also weighed in on the issue, backing Afridi as captain after he led the side to their first one-day series victory since 2008, claiming that Afridi "deserves to get the World Cup captaincy as a reward." The victory in Hamilton saw Pakistan take a decisive 3-1 lead in the series with one match yet to played at Eden Park on Saturday.
Both Afridi and Misbah have put in strong claims to the captaincy through a string of impressive performances in the series. Afridi has performed solidly with the ball, bowling tidy middle over spells and making crucial breakthroughs to keep New Zealand in check, while his swashbuckling 65 from 25 deliveries in Christchurch put the game out of reach of the opposition. Misbah meanwhile has notched up 203 runs in four innings at an average of 67.66 and has provided stability to the middle order. His perfectly paced 93 in Napier guided Pakistan to victory in a close run-chase and earned him the man-of-the-match award.
Waqar praised his side for their allround performance in the victory in Hamilton as the batsmen put up a competitive total and the bowlers made regular breakthroughs to keep New Zealand under pressure during their chase. "It was a very professional approach by the Pakistanis in the entire game, not only just the batting and bowling. In the field we were pretty sharp, we held our catches, we broke the partnerships, so spot on in all departments."
The series against New Zealand is the eighth bi-lateral series and twelfth one-day trophy overall since their last series win and Waqar claimed it meant a lot to the team to finally get a win on the board. It was also Pakistan's first one day series win in New Zealand since 1994. "It's been a while. We've come very close to winning series and the Asia cup recently. We played good cricket but unfortunately we didn't win anything and that's why the boys were excited and they enjoyed it. We haven't won anything for a long while in New Zealand in the one-dayers, so it's definitely pleasing for everyone."
Nineteen year old opener Ahmed Shehzad played a scintillating innings at the top for the visitors, scoring 115 from 109 balls to set up the Pakistan innings, scoring his maiden one day hundred in the process. The innings was particularly impressive for its variety of strokeplay, as Shehzad unleashed a dazzling array of shots to entertain the Hamilton crowd. Twice Shehzad scooped James Franklin over the shoulder for four with fine leg in the circle and he also made room to crash a full Scott Styris delivery over the covers. His knock also included three majestic straight sixes off Hamish Bennett.
"That's where we've been struggling; our top order hasn't been clicking," Waqar said. "Ahmed Shehzad played an outstanding knock. He took his time and he made full use of a beautiful pitch to bat on. And then the middle order and late middle order chipped in and put up partnerships."
Waqar Younis claimed Pakistan would look to wrap up the series 4-1 on Saturday to further boost the side's confidence ahead of the World Cup."It's important to keep the momentum and finish with a win so when it comes to the World Cup we are all nice and ready and pumped up."