Babar Azam vows to make Pakistan world-beaters after regaining T20 captaincy | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Upon his reappointment as captain, Babar Azam expressed his determination to elevate Pakistan cricket to the pinnacle of success, aiming to mold the team into the best in the world.
Babar takes over the Twenty20 captaincy from the embattled Shaheen Shah Afridi, who faced criticism following a disappointing 4-1 series loss to New Zealand in January during his brief tenure.
Babar’s return to leadership comes after he relinquished captaincy across all formats in November, following Pakistan’s premature exit from the 50-over World Cup held in India.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Babar aims to guide Pakistan cricket to new heights, instilling a winning mentality and fostering a culture of excellence within the team.
“Our joint aim is to make this team the best in the world,” said Babar, who will seek out fast bowler Shaheen’s advice on the best way forward for the squad.
“As a captain, I have always valued his input and I will keep consulting him for important decisions. We must take advantage of his strategic understanding of the game.”
Shaheen voiced his unequivocal support for the seasoned Babar, expressing his full confidence in the experienced campaigner’s leadership abilities.
“As a team player, it is my duty to back our captain, Babar Azam. I have played under his captaincy and have nothing but respect for him,” he said.
“I will try to help him both on and off the field. We are all one. Our aim is the same, to help Pakistan become the best team in the world.”
Following Babar’s decision to step down from the captaincy last year, he was succeeded by Shan Masood as the Test skipper and by Shaheen in T20Is.
In the aftermath of Pakistan’s disappointing performance in the World Cup, former head coach Mickey Arthur was replaced by team director Mohammad Hafeez. Under Hafeez’s guidance, Pakistan endured a challenging period, suffering a 3-0 Test whitewash in Australia and a T20I series loss in New Zealand.
Looking ahead, Pakistan face a packed schedule of T20Is, including five matches against New Zealand at home, followed by series against Ireland and England. These fixtures will serve as crucial preparation for the upcoming World Cup, scheduled to be held in the United States and the West Indies in June.
In a bid to bolster performance before the tournament, Mohsin Naqvi, the new Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, has introduced changes to the selection process. Notably, the captain and head coach will now be integral parts of the selection process, reflecting a concerted effort to enhance results and optimise the team’s composition.
“We have reorganised the selection committee with seven members but the difference is that there will be no chairman,” Naqvi told a news conference, with each member to have “equal powers”.
In a significant development, fast bowler Mohammad Amir has announced his decision to come out of retirement, while all-rounder Imad Wasim has also reversed his earlier decision to quit the sport, which he made four months ago.
Currently, the squad is undergoing a rigorous two-week training camp at an army base in Kakul, focusing on honing their skills and fitness ahead of upcoming fixtures.
Babar’s tenure as skipper has seen mixed results, with 42 wins from 71 T20Is since 2019. However, he has faced accusations of favouritism in team selection, which have prompted scrutiny and critique.
“We will have to see how this decision impacts Pakistan team’s performance, but I think Babar Azam should be given the long-term captaincy,” former wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal told AFP.
“Babar is a serious captain, so I don’t think there will be any rift in the team.”
Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi, whose daughter is married to Shaheen, was surprised at Babar’s return.
“I believe that if change was necessary, then (Mohammad) Rizwan was the best choice,” said Afridi on X.
“But since the decision has now been made, I offer my full support and best wishes to Team Pakistan and Babar Azam.”
(With AFP inputs)

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