'Babar Azam is no MS Dhoni that you brought him back': Pakistan openers fight on live TV | Crickit

'Babar Azam is no MS Dhoni that you brought him back': Pakistan openers fight on live TV

Jun 05, 2024 01:42 PM IST

Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad said Babar Azam is no MS Dhoni that PCB brought him back as captain. Shehzad was countered by Imam-ul-Haq.

Pakistan openers Ahmed Shehzad and Imam-ul-Haq were involved in a heated debate over Babar Azam's captaincy and the state of Pakistan cricket under his leadership ahead of the team's T20 World Cup opener against hosts USA. During a T20 World Cup build-up show on Pakistan channel Geo TV, Shehzad was asked whether Babar Azam does favouritism while picking players for the national side. In reply, the right-handed batter did not hold back.

Pakistan's Babar Azam(AFP)
Pakistan's Babar Azam(AFP)

Shehzad criticised Babar Azam using strong words and even slammed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for reinstating the latter as the white-ball captain just before the T20 World Cup. "Speaking of Babar Azam, there is friendship. Look, he is carrying players from a long run. The players are out of form for a long time. It doesn’t look good. If I count the number of matches, you’ll realize players don’t get that long run. If there were any other captain, he wouldn’t have carried players for 35-40 games. He should have thought about himself.

"We don’t play cricket to win bilateral series but to win ICC events. Did we win any event in the last 4-5 years? If we didn’t win, I would say there are gangs, friendships, and tola with an agent who has been manipulating cricket for the last 4-5 years," he said.

When Shehzad was informed that the players who are in Pakistan's squad made their debut in Sarfaraz Ahmed's captaincy, the attacking opener said Ahmed won the Champions Trophy, beating India in the final in 2017. So he has that leeway but Babar hasn't been able to win any ICC tournament.

"They [Sarfaraz Ahmed and Co.] produced the results, won the Champions Trophy. It justifies, you also win this event and justify. However, you’ve got a longer run, one captain doesn’t get five events. You were removed and then brought back. I understand if you were MS Dhohi that you were brought back. But no. It’s wrong with Shaheen, you made him captain for two matches and then you removed him."

Babar stepped down as Pakistan's captain after failing to advance past the group stage in the ODI World Cup in India in 2019. Shaan Masood was named the Test captain, while Shaheen Afridi took over the T20 side. But after Pakistan's lost the five-match T20I series against New Zealand 1-4 under Shaheen's captaincy and the left-arm fast bowler's poor performance in the PSL - Lahore Qalandars won only one match out of 10 to finish last - PCB brought Babar back as the white-ball captain.

Imam and Ahmed Shehzad fight over Babar Azam's captaincy

Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq and former batter Imran Nazir were also part of the show. Imam was asked to comment about PCB's decision to go back to Babar before the T20 World Cup. The left-hander said: "Babar was removed without his consent and reinstated without his consent as well. The board re-appointed him as captain. In 2021, we reached the semifinals. Later in 2022, we played the final, which means there were performances. We didn’t win, that can be a debate. We didn’t click in the final. You can say Babar likes these lot of players but terming it as friendship is quite personal."

That is where the war of words began between Imam and Shehzad.

Ahmed Shehzad: "We understand that Imam is in a central contract, he is young. We spoke the same when were at his age. I’m 34, sick and tired of things. We want things to be better. When you drag players for 4-5 years, you do wrong with those performing in domestic. Someone else takes their rights," Shehzad replied.

Imam-ul-Haq: "I am in a central contract. I have been playing for the last 6-7 years but I promise you that when I’ll be 36, my stand will be the same. If someone has a problem, they can speak if they are 28 as well. Why don’t you say that?"

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