Thursday, February 29, 2024

Pakistan likely to sack Babar Azam as captain, report says: Here’s who could replace him

Questions have been raised on Pakistan Captain Babar Azam after the team saw three consecutive loss at the ICC World Cup 2023. It all started with India vs Pakistan match where both teams had equal score of winning three matches. After Pakistan lost to India, it saw second loss against Australia on 20 October while the most ‘embarrassing loss’ came after Afghanistan thrashed Pakistan by 8 wickets which was also Afghanistan’s first-ever win over Pakistan in eight ODIs.

With this disastrous performance of the Pakistani team, reports have stated that Captain Babar Azam is likely to be replaced as the captain after the World Cup 2023. After the World Cup, Pakistan is scheduled to tour Australia immediately. Moreover, the team also needs to plan for the 2024 T20 World Cup and 2025 ICC Champions Trophy.

One reliable source close to the developments told news agency PTI that Babar might as well announce his resignation as captain if the team returns home without playing in the World Cup semifinals.

“It is over for Babar because he has been given unbridled power and authority as captain and more importantly he has always had players of his choice in the team. There has never been any attempt to reduce his authority and so he is now being held solely responsible for the Asia Cup and World Cup defeats,” the source added as quoted by PTI.

Who are the potential candidates to replace Babar Azam?

Sources pointed out that even for the Asia Cup and World Cup, Babar had obtained all 18 players he requested, despite urges from former captains Misbah ul Haq and Muhammad Hafeez to make certain changes for the event in India.

“The PCB Chairman, Zaka Ashraf ignored the advice of Misbah and Hafeez and some other former players whom he consulted as Babar was adamant he didn’t want changes in the team for the World Cup,” the source said.

As per PTI report, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Muhammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi are being discussed as potential candidates who could replace Azam as captain when the national team returns home from the World Cup. The source also told the agency that the Pakistan Cricket Board is likely to appoint different captains for the red and white ball forms with Sarfaraz Ahmed might win the nod to captain the Test and ODI sides again while Shaheen Shah Afridi may get a chance to be the T20 captain, source added as reported by PTI.

Apart from Babar Azam, the source also disclosed that the support staff Mickey Arthur, Grant Bradburn, Mornie Merkel, Andrew Puttick and manager Rehan ul Haq are also likely to be asked to step down after the World Cup. “They are very bright chances that Pakistan will have a new coaching staff and captain when they embark on the Test tour of Australia and for the white ball series in New Zealand after the WC,” the source said as quoted by the agency.

Former cricketer Ramiz says ‘Babar Azam needs to improve a lot’

Pakistani cricket commentator, YouTuber, and former cricketer Ramiz Raja spoke on his YouTube channel about the disastrous loss from Afghanistan. In the video posted on Ramiz Speaks, he said, “Pakistan have a lot of problems to deal with. Babar Azam needs to improve a lot tactically. Hasan Ali was getting the ball to reverse towards the back end of the innings. The equation was run-a-ball at that stage. Pakistan needed wickets and Hasan Ali looked very close to getting a dismissal. What was the need to bowl a spinner from the other end?”

He also added, “After this World Cup, there has to be a serious discussion about altering the DNA of this team. They need a complete overhaul in terms of mindset, approach, new talent, and new ideas. We need to improve on each and every aspect. Pakistan have hit rock bottom. Babar Azam needs to step up and prove himself as a leader amid all this.”

Does Pakistan Team still hold any chance at the World Cup?

Pakistan Team still have four more league games left in the World Cup. They can still qualify for the semifinals. “Only if Pakistan can stage a miracle and win all their remaining matches to qualify for the semi-finals of this World Cup does Babar stand any chance of surviving as captain and even then he might be relegated to skipper in just the red ball format,” the source said.

A look at Pakistan’s World Cup 2023 performance

In the First match, Pakistan defeated the Netherlands by 81 runs at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium Hyderabad on October 6. In their second match, Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 6 wickets (with 10 balls remaining) at Hyderabad Stadium on October 10, 2023. In its third and fourth match, Pakistan were defeated by India and Australia by 7 wickets and 62 runs respectively

(With inputs from PTI)

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Updated: 25 Oct 2023, 12:18 PM IST

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