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Pakistan Twenty20 captain Afridi backs Amir selection

Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi Saturday backed Mohammad Amir’s return to international cricket, saying the team must move on, after the paceman was selected for the national squad for the New Zealand tour.

The 23-year-old left-armer was selected Friday for the Twenty20 and one-day international squads for an upcoming series in New Zealand, marking his international comeback less than four months after completing a five-year ban for match fixing.

“I back Amir’s selection and am happy at his return,” Afridi told AFP.

“We now need to move on and I will back Amir and expect him to serve Pakistan cricket with complete dedication and commitment and support him.”

Amir, once regarded as the hottest property in international cricket, remains a polarising figure for Pakistan’s cricket-mad public and even some teammates.

Amir’s return to the squad was opposed by one-day captain Azhar Ali and former Twenty20 captain and current player Mohammad Hafeez.

Last week Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali left a training camp Amir was attending in protest at his prospective selection. They were later forced to return after being threatened with disciplinary action.

Ali also tendered his resignation Monday in protest, but it was rejected by Pakistan Cricket Board.

“I respect Azhar and Hafeez’a stance. We suffered a lot due to spot fixing scandal and our image was tarnished everywhere but we must move on,” said Afridi.

Pakistan fly to New Zealand on January 10.

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