“Those Elements Aren’t Present…”: Babar Azam Breaks Silence On Rift With Shaheen Afridi

Pakistan’s reinstated skipper Babar Azam finally addressed the elephant in the room and opened up on the recent captaincy controversy, where he was reappointed as captain, replacing Shaheen Shah Afridi. Questions were raised over Afridi’s leadership with his led side suffering a 1-4 loss to New Zealand away from home during his first captaincy assignment. Among the commotion surrounding the leadership, there were media reports that Shaheen was dissatisfied with the abrupt manner in which he was removed from captaincy. Shaheen’s enigmatic social media statements added fuel to the reports.

Despite everything that has happened in recent weeks, Pakistan’s white-ball captain Azam stated that he and Afridi still have a good connection. Despite the turbulent nature of the captaincy changeover, it appears like the relationship between Pakistan’s two most prominent cricketers is holding together for the time being.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the first T20I match against New Zealand, Babar reiterated that all players support one another in all situations.

“I want to make clear that Shaheen [Afridi] and my bond is not recent, it goes back a long way. We support each other in every situation. Our aim is to put Pakistan first, and how to put Pakistan’s name up in lights. We don’t think of individual glory, and thankfully, those elements are not present in my team,” Babar said as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

He did imply that Pakistan would experiment throughout the five games, with an eye on the T20 World Cup and focusing all of their training on that.

“Our line-up is flexible. We’re trying to give opportunities to our young players and bench strength. You’ll see different combinations in this series and check what works for us. You’ll see that in the bowling as well as batting, and in every spot. By the time we get to the Ireland and England series, we’ll have a clearer picture,” he said.

Azam stated that the club had a nice balance of youth and experience, and he was pleased to see new faces in the squad.


“I am very happy when I see a new player getting selected for the Pakistan Cricket Team on the basis of domestic performance. So all the youngsters that come, we try to keep them in our wings. Because in international, whenever you come, you struggle a little. You need a little backing. It helps to have a senior player who can give you a little backing. And we always support all the senior players. We support them in everything,” said the Pakistan captain.

The five-game series kicks off in Rawalpindi on 18 April.

Pakistan squad:Babar Azam (c), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan and Zaman Khan.

New Zealand squad:Michael Bracewell (c), Tom Blundell, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Will O’Rourke, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi and Zak Foulkes.


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