The cricketing world is abuzz with rumors as reports suggest that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is on the verge of removing Babar Azam as the captain across all formats. The decision comes in the wake of Pakistan’s lackluster performance in the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Earlier this year, Babar Azam led the team to the number-one spot in the ICC rankings, raising hopes for a stellar World Cup campaign. However, the team fell short of expectations, failing to secure a spot in the semifinals. Pakistan, once considered a tournament favorite, finished in fifth place with four wins and five defeats, marking the third consecutive ODI World Cup without a semifinal berth.
Babar Azam’s captaincy faced intense scrutiny, not only from fans but also from former cricketers who openly advocated for a change in leadership. Former players like Kamran Akmal went a step further, advising the right-handed batsman to relinquish the captaincy and focus on his batting. Azam, both as a captain and a batsman, struggled to meet the expectations, scoring 320 runs at an average of 40 and a strike rate of just over 80 in nine games.
While the PCB has yet to make an official statement on Babar Azam’s fate, reports from Pakistani news outlet Geo News indicate an imminent change. The board is reportedly considering accepting Azam’s resignation, and in the absence of it, they are poised to relieve him of his captaincy.
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The report also suggests potential successors for the captain’s role in different formats. Shan Masood emerges as a strong candidate for the upcoming Test series against Australia, while pacer Shaheen Afridi is positioned as a frontrunner for the T20I captaincy. With Pakistan’s next ODI assignment scheduled for November next year, the PCB is likely to delay the announcement of a new ODI captain.
As the cricketing community awaits official confirmation, the looming change in leadership raises questions about the direction Pakistan cricket will take. Babar Azam’s journey as captain may be at a crossroads, but the potential successors bring their promises and challenges to the forefront.