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‘Rizwan was the best choice‘ – Shahid Afridi ‘surprised’ by Babar Azam’s appointment as Pakistan captain

Shahid Afridi surprised at Babar Azam being named captain
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi was surprised at Babar Azam being named Pakistan captain for the white-ball formats.

Babar Azam had resigned as Pakistan captain from all formats on November 15, 2023, shortly after they were eliminated from the World Cup in India. The Pakistan Cricket Board appointed Shan Masood as their Test captain, and put Shaheen Shah Afridi in charge of the T20I side. With no ODI planned until late 2024, they did not appoint anyone to lead them in the format. They also overhauled their entire support staff.

Since then, Pakistan toured Australia to play three Tests and New Zealand for five T20Is. They lost the first 0-3 and the latter 1-4. Since then, during and after the 2024 PSL, they changed several personnel again, while Imad Wasim and Mohammad Amir made themselves available to play for Pakistan.

With the T20 World Cup only two months away, there were speculations over a change in captaincy in the format. The race had several forerunners: Shaheen could have stayed on; vice-captain Shadab Khan could have been promoted; Mohammad Rizwan could have been rewarded for leading his team to three consecutive PSL finals; and, of course, Babar was in the mix.

Today (March 31, 2024), four and a half months after his resignation, the PCB reappointed Babar as captain for both ODIs and T20Is following “unanimous recommendation” from the selectors.

The decision drew reaction from former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi. “I am surprised by the decision by very experienced cricketers in the selection committee,” he confessed on social media.

“I still believe that if change was necessary than Rizwan was the best choice! But since now the decision has been made I offer my full support and best wishes to team Pakistan and Babar Azam.”

Pakistan will play 12 T20Is ahead of the World Cup – five against New Zealand at home followed by three in Ireland and England.

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