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Shahid Afridi denies lobbying for Shaheen’s captaincy, makes huge Babar claim | Cricket


Shahid Afridi denies lobbying for Shaheen’s captaincy, makes huge Babar claim | Cricket


Following a dismal World Cup campaign where they finished fifth in the group stage, Pakistan’s Babar Azam stepped down from captaincy across all formats of the game. The Babar-led side faced crushing defeats to India and Afghanistan, and further endured close losses against Australia and South Africa to bow out of the tournament, finishing on 8 points in nine matches. While an ODI captain is yet to be announced, the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed hours after Babar’s resignation that Shaheen Afridi would lead the side in T20Is, while Shan Masood will captain Pakistan in the longest format.

Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi celebrates with Babar Azam after taking the wicket of England's Joe Root (REUTERS)
Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi celebrates with Babar Azam after taking the wicket of England’s Joe Root (REUTERS)

Following the announcement, conspiracy theories emerged in Pakistan over alleged lobbying of Shaheen by former captain Shahid Afridi, who is also the bowler’s father-in-law. There had been reports of dressing room tensions between Babar and Shaheen since the Asia Cup elimination in September and the latter’s ascension to captaincy triggered speculations over a rift between the two.

However, Shahid Afridi has now insistede that he didn’t even want Shaheen to lead the side, stating that Mohammad Rizwan should have been named the captain in white-ball formats. Additionally, Afridi senior wanted Babar to retain his leadership role in Tests.

“Shaheen as captain is entirely Mohammad Hafeez’s and the PCB chairman’s decision. I have nothing to do with that. I never lobbied for Shaheen’s captaincy. In fact, I have always wanted to keep Shaheen away from the captaincy,” Afridi was quoted as saying on Samaa TV.

“I was never in favour of Babar Azam’s removal. I also told the PCB chairman that he should not remove Babar from the captaincy. I wanted Mohammad Rizwan to be the white-ball captain and Babar to be the captain of the Test team,” he further said.

Babar had put out a statement days after Pakistan’s World Cup exit to confirm his departure from captaincy role. “Today, I am stepping down as the captain of Pakistan in all formats,” Babar had announced on X, formerly Twitter, after meeting PCB chief Zakar Ashraf in Lahore. In the same meeting, former captain Mohammad Hafeez was appointed as team director, replacing Mickey Arthur in the new set-up.

“It’s a difficult decision but I feel it is the right time for this call. I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats,” Babar had further said.

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