December 8, 2011

Former Pakistan speedster believes Abhimanyu Mithun is far from an ideal choice as Praveen Kumar’s replacement for the Australia tour.

The Indian selectors’ decision to pick Abhimanyu Mithun ahead of the in-form Irfan Pathan has left many pundits of the game stunned. Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram is one of them.

“I would’ve definitely picked Irfan. His previous experiences in Australia would have been a boost to Team India. I don’t know why he wasn’t considered,” said a baffled Akram in an exclusive chat with Mobile ESPN from Karachi on Wednesday.

Pathan staked a claim for selection by picking up 21-wickets in four matches, including three fifers in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. Akram felt bringing back the buoyant Irfan at this stage would have been ideal.

“Irfan has hit peak form, and it would have been perfect to unleash him at this stage. He looks confident and his swing would have been very handy in those conditions,” said Akram, who is regarded as a swing specialist.

Akram, who has mentored Irfan in the past, also felt the selectors should have named Praveen’s replacement after the last two ODIs against the West Indies.

“If they gave Abhimanyu Mithun an opportunity in the Ahmedabad ODI, it would have only been fair to see how Irfan performed in the remaining two games. I think it’s a bit unfair, but the selectors probably had a different line of thinking,” said Akram.

The 21-year-old Mithun, who has picked up 10 wickets in his four Tests for India, wasn’t considered during the tour of England, despite the wake of several injuries in the team. Akram felt there will be immense pressure on the rookie to acclimatize quickly to Australian conditions, with the series starting December 26.

“An experienced cricketer like Zaheer Khan has broken down twice in two previous tours to Australia. On a big tour like this, the pressure to perform is huge, and I think Mithun would struggle on that front, which is why Irfan’s experience would have been handy,” Akram felt.

The ESPN-STAR Sports expert also reckoned India have learnt their lessons from the England tour by giving themselves adequate time to warm-up before the series opener in Melbourne. “It’s good to see the BCCI has scheduled two practice matches before the Boxing Day Test. I think overall, it should be good enough preparation,” Akram signed off.

By Shashank Kishore
Courtesy: ESPN STAR

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