Rift surfaces in Pakistan cricket team

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Karachi, Jan 23 : Critics of the Pakistan cricket team have accused a few senior players of ganging up against incumbent captain Shoaib Malik.

At Tuesday's practice session at the National Stadium in Karachi, Shahid Afridi's absence gave weight to speculations that some seniors were unhappy with Malik.

According to some sources, Shahid has gone to Islamabad for an interview regarding his United States' visa. He reportedly took permission from top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials for his Islamabad visit rather than from the team manager or his captain.

Both Malik and team manager Talat Ali did not explain Afridi's absence.

Last year, Afridi was a candidate for captaincy after former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq resigned following last year's World cup disaster, but the PCB opted for 25-year-old all rounder Malik.

Senior players like Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Akhtar and Afridi have assured the PCB of their full support to Malik.

Soon after taking over as captain, Malik led the Pakistan team to a One Day International (ODI) series win over Sri Lanka and also to the finals of Inaugural World Twenty20 Championship.

Since then, it has been downhill for Malik and his boys.

They have lost both the Test and an ODI series to South Africa last year. In India, they lost both the Test and the ODI series. After the series in India, Younis Khan announced that he is keen to captain the Pakistan team again.

According to The News, PCB officials maintain that Malik has the complete support of his players, and he will be in the saddle till the end of the year.

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