Sarfaraz AhmedMohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi are discussed as potential candidates to replace Babar Azam who leads when the national team returns home from the WC in India. Pakistan is scheduled to tour Australia immediately after the World Cup. The team will also plan for the 2024 T20 World Cup and the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy.
There is a clear consensus developing within the Pakistan Cricket Board that Babar has had his chance to prove himself and has failed to deliver as captain.
Pakistan have four more league matches remaining in the World Cup, having lost their last three, including against Afghanistan on Monday. They can still qualify for the semi-finals.
“Only if Pakistan can stage a miracle and win all their remaining matches to qualify for the semi-finals of this World Cup will Babar have any chance of surviving as captain and even then he may be relegated to captain in just the red ball format .” ” said a reliable source close to the development.
The source said the knives were out for Babar and he might as well announce his resignation as captain if the team returns home without playing in the World Cup semi-finals.
“It is over for Babar because he has been given unbridled power and authority as a captain and more importantly, he has always had players of his choice in the team.
“There was never any attempt to reduce his authority and therefore he is now held solely responsible for the Asia Cup and World Cup defeat,” the source added.
He noted that even for the Asia Cup and the World Cup, despite advice from former captains Misbah ul Haq and Muhammad Hafeez to make some changes for the event in India, Babar had got all the 18 players he asked for and the chief selector, Inzamam ul Haq had also supported him completely.
“PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf ignored the advice of Misbah and Hafeez and some other former players whom he consulted as Babar was adamant that he did not want changes in the squad for the World Cup,” the source said.
Misbah also confirmed on a TV channel that he had advised Babar to include the mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed in the World Cup, but Babar refused and only agreed to take him as a traveling reserve to India.
The interesting part is that lobbying for the possible candidates including Sarfaraz, Shaheen, Rizwan and Shan Masood have begun their work of getting their candidate chosen as captain and the board are now likely to appoint different captains for the red and white balls.
“Sarfaraz may win the nod to captain the Test and ODI teams again, while Shaheen may get a chance to be the T20 captain,” added the source. Sarfaraz is currently not part of the World Cup squad.
The source also revealed that the support staff from Mickey Arthur, Grant BradburnMornie Merkel, Andrew Puttick and manager Rehan ul Haq is also under the scanner and will be asked to step down after the WC.
“Chances are very high that Pakistan will have a new coaching staff and a new captain when they embark on the Test tour of Australia and the white-ball series in New Zealand after the World Cup,” the source said.
The source said the board was also not happy with reports oozing out of some differences and wrangling in the dressing room, something the PCB rubbished on Monday.
Babar was initially named T20 captain in late 2019, but by 2021 he had taken over the captaincy of all three formats.
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