LAHORE

Pakistan T20 captain Shahid Afridi is pinning his hopes on youngsters inducted in the team for the one-off T20 against Australia to be played in Dubai, UAE on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters here before his team’s departure, Afridi said he along with all-rounder M Hafeez would aim to fill the hole left by Ajmal’s absence. “In Ajmal’s absence the role of bowlers like me, Hafeez and others have increased. It doesn’t mean we can fill his void but I am sure we can manage it,” he said. Afridi said his side’s strategy for the game against Australia – and later against New Zealand – was built around youngsters. “We have introduced young blood in the team,” said Afridi. “I don’t want to give 100% guarantee that we’ll win. Waqar Younis and I have a few plans and combinations to try out in the coming three games.” Afridi is also banking on the form and match fitness of the players who represented Lions in India. Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz and Saad Nasim were vital members of the Lahore outfit. “We’re counting on the players who featured in the CLT20. Nasim is one youngster who possesses the talent to do well at this level. Similarly, Awais Zia and Raza Hasan’s return is also going to help the team.”

Opener Shehzad is down with a bout of flu and fever and missed a crucial CLT20 group match against Perth Scorchers played in Bangalore on Tuesday. The batsman is expected to regain fitness before the Australia match, failing which Awais Zia can be drafted in the playing eleven.

Akmal will keep wickets while Nasim and Umar Amin are also likely to find their places in the eleven with Afridi and Waqar depending on the youngsters for some solidity in the middle-order.

The national team is likely to rely on fast-bowlers M Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir and Anwar Ali in the night game. Afridi and Hafeez will remain vital cogs in the spin-bowling department in the absence of the suspended Saeed Ajmal. Bilawal Bhatti, who conceded 30 runs in an over against Australia during the World Twenty20 in April, returns to the squad, but is unlikely to feature in the match.