Shane Warne has chosen his best Pakistan Test side over the past 25 years, Cricket Australia’s official website reports. While the spin wizard named Wasim Akram as the skipper of his side, the most surprising decision was the selection of all-rounder Shahid Afridi in favour of one of Pakistan’s greatest leg-spinners, Mushtaq Ahmed.
Warne has been picking his best XI for various teams over the past weeks. He started out with his home side Australia before moving on to arch rivals England and then South Africa. Warne has now chosen Pakistan as the first Asian country to name his playing XI.
Younis Khan is the only present Test cricketer to feature in Warne’s selection with Afridi being the only other active cricketer in any format out of the 11 chosen. The choice of Afridi in the longer format of the game is sure to invite some harsh criticism as the 35-year-old featured in only 27 Test matches over a 12-year period. His record in the longest format is nothing impressive either as he only scored 1716 runs at 36.51 and took 48 wickets at 34.6.
Warne, however, stated that he chose Afridi over Musthaq, who took 185 wickets in 52 Tests at an average of 32.97, because of his all-round abilities and considering the balance of the side as he had already chosen off-spinner Saqlain Musthaq in the XI.
“Lots of good players, unfortunately, miss out, the toughest player to leave out was my friend and amazing leg-spinner, Mushtaq Ahmed,” Warne wrote on his Facebook page. “But went with Afridi as the leg-spinning all-rounder, otherwise Saqlain would have had to miss out.”
The left-handed opening duo of Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail is joined by the legendary trio of Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf (Yousuf Yohanna) in the middle order. Moin Khan was chosen as the wicketkeeper-batsman coming in to bat at the No 7 slot behind Afridi.
The swing duo of Akram and Waqar Younis leads the pace attack as expected with speedster Shoaib Akhtar also making the cut. As revealed earlier, Saqlain Mushtaq was chosen as the lone frontline spinner in the team, thus completing the XI.
Afridi’s selection also meant there was no place for fast bowling all-rounders Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood in the side, something Warne was mindful to acknowledge.
“Pretty imposing and talented team,” Warne said. “Abdul Razzaq and Azahar Mahmood pushed hard too.”
WARNE'S GREATEST PAKISTAN TEST XI (since 1990)
Saeed Anwar, Aamer Sohail, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf Yohanna, Shahid Afridi, Moin Khan, Wasim Akram (capt), Saqlain Musthaq, Shoiab Akhtar, Waqar Younis.