Saturday, June 23, 2012

Afridi a doubt for T20 openers

Hampshire's Twenty20 hopes have been dealt a blow with the news that all-rounder Shahid Afridi is struggling to obtain a visa.

Afridi was due to return for Hampshire's Friends Life t20 campaign but has had to return to his native Pakistan to receive the necessary visa clearance.

The 32-year-old, who has already missed the county's first two matches, has just completed a tour of Sri Lanka with Pakistan's one-day squad and is free to join up with his Hampshire colleagues. However, he is now set to miss Friday's game against Kent and Sunday's return fixture at Canterbury.

"We'll miss Shahid. Every side in the world would miss someone of his ability," Hampshire manager Giles White told BBC Radio Solent.

"We will wait for him to resolve his visa issues. He needs to travel back to Pakistan, get the visa sorted and we hope he will arrive sooner rather than later.

"He's very keen to get over here and he will come as soon as he can. We'll be delighted when he does arrive."

It is familiar territory for the two parties, following Afridi's troubles in 2011. He missed the first six t20 fixtures last season after the Pakistan cricket board stalled on authorising a 'no-objection' certificate following a dispute.

The county were highly fancised to do well in this year’s competition, though Afridi’s initial absence has seen them move out in the odds betting

White was philosophical this time around, saying nobody is to blame for the delay.

"There is no finger pointing. It is just the way it has worked out with the border agency and certain issues that have cropped up," added White.

"It is no-one's fault. Hopefully he will be here within the next few days."

The enigmatic Afridi proved a big hit at the Ageas Bowl last year thanks to some impressive results and scores, taking 17 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 11.17.

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