Following Pakistan’s unexpected elimination from the Asia Cup 2023, skipper Babar Azam is the target of intense criticism and internal discord. The team’s championship campaign came to an abrupt end as they lost to Sri Lanka by two wickets in a vital Super 4 match at R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
After their most recent Super 4 encounter, there have been rumours of a fierce altercation between Babar Azam and the tall pacer Shaheen Afridi, which has left the dressing room filled with sadness and fury. The event has brought to light long-simmering conflicts inside the group and raised issues with leadership and team relationships.
Shahid Afridi, the renowned all-round player and Shaheen Afridi’s father-in-law, has unexpectedly shown insight into this chaos. Former player Shahid Afridi, who was renowned for his captivating leadership, has advised Babar Azam to seek advice from the coach and team director in order to improve as a captain.
After Pakistan’s elimination from the Asia Cup, Babar Azam’s leadership has been the subject of close examination. The strain he is presently under is increased by the criticism that both fans and former players have not hesitated to voice on some of his on-field choices throughout the tournament.
In an interview with Samaa TV, Shahid Afridi stressed how crucial it is to support Babar Azam’s leadership in front of the next ICC ODI World Cup. He insisted that in order to strengthen the young captain’s will and decision-making skills, the seniors, especially head coach Mickey Arthur, should have in-depth talks with him.
He said: “We are going to the World Cup. All the seniors, including head coach, Mickey, have to talk to him [Babar Azam]. Make him strong. Don’t fear making tough decisions. Don’t worry about losses. Either you win, or you learn.”
Shahid Afridi also emphasised that Babar Azam, who has led the squad for three years, has to actively look for answers inside the group. By encouraging Babar to draw from the abundance of experience in the dressing room, he will become a better captain.
Hea added: “My issue is, you’ve been leading the side for 3 years. Come on. There are professionals around you. Talk to them and improve your captaincy. You’re a big player, but you would want people to also remember you as captain.”
During his short term as head selector of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Shahid Afridi intriguingly also exposed a troubling facet of Pakistani cricket. He explained how the team captain and the head coach had a communication breakdown.
Hea added: “I came in as chief selector for a month. There were so many problems. The captain had one choice, the coach had other choices. Both were giving me different reports, whilst players were giving me different reports altogether. The communication was so broken.”
Pakistan is facing yet another setback as they prepare to go to India for a run of practice matches ahead of the ICC ODI World Cup in 2023. One of Pakistan’s emerging cricket talents, Naseem Shah, is unlikely to play in the coveted tournament because of a shoulder injury he suffered during the Asia Cup 2023.
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Babar Azam’s leadership has been harshly exposed by the Asia Cup exit, highlighting both the chances and problems that lie ahead of him. With the help of Shahid Afridi’s words of wisdom and maybe a change in communication styles, Pakistan hopes to strengthen and restore their team spirit in time for the World Cup. They have a long way to go, but they hope that by reflecting and working together, they may once again leave their imprint on the global scene.