Karachi, Jan 27 : Blaming Pakistan's limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi for his team's crushing defeat in the first one-dayer against New Zealand is "absurd", former Test cricketer and chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu has said.
Sallu pointed out that Afridi had scored 601 runs- including two centuries- and had a strike rate of 144 in 2010, coupled with 19 wickets in the ODIs, and it was unfair to blame him solely for a single defeat at Wellington.
"A few former cricketers are putting the blame squarely on Afridi because they have an axe to grind with the all-rounder," the Dawn quoted Sallu, as saying.
"They are also citing Afridi's performance in the recently concluded 20-20 series against the Kiwis, but then they should also consider that it was his bowling (4-14) that was key to Pakistan's victory in the last Twenty20 game," he added.
Not mincing any words while slamming Afridi's critics, Sallu said the agenda of those ex-cricketers was quite obvious to everyone, and questioned: "May I ask these critics what was the performance of our openers and middle order batsmen in the first ODI, barring Misbah-ul-Haq?"
"All others including opener Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal have been in New Zealand for the past three weeks and well acclimatised with the conditions, and yet they failed to score even 40 runs between them," the former chief selector argued.
Sallu said the critics must realise that one-day cricket is not a single wicket competition, and "blaming an individual for the defeat is quite absurd."
"Can the detractors of Afridi tell me how any team could defend a small 125-run target, and that too on a field that had short boundaries? Even Sir Gary Sobers would find it difficult to defend this total in a Twenty20 game, let alone a fifty over match," he added.
Sallu also criticised senior bowler Shoaib Akhtar for conceding as many as 47 runs in just four overs to nearly settle the contest in New Zealand's favour.
"Shoaib's spell is hard to defend, and I would even suggest that it would be better if spinners are introduced sooner in the innings since the New Zealanders are traditionally vulnerable to spin," he said, adding, "I am confident that Afridi and his boys will come back strongly in the series." (ANI)