Pakistan selector Wahab Riaz discloses the reason behind Shaheen Afridi’s removal as captain

In recent developments within Pakistan cricket, Shaheen Afridi‘s tenure as the captain of the T20I team has come to an end, paving the way for Babar Azam to reassume leadership responsibilities ahead of the forthcoming five-match T20I series against New Zealand.

Shaheen Afridi’s removal and Babar Azam’s reappointment

Shaheen’s elevation to the captaincy of Pakistan’s T20I team came in the wake of Babar’s resignation following Pakistan’s early exit from the ODI World Cup 2023. However, the dream of having a promising and fresh start under Shaheen’s leadership soon dwindled as Pakistan suffered a comprehensive 1-4 defeat in New Zealand in January.

Matters only worsened with Lahore Qalandars, the franchise he led in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 campaign, languishing at the bottom of the points table. Consequently, the string of poor performances led to Shaheen’s removal from the captaincy role, paving the way for Babar’s reinstatement as the skipper of the national team.

Wahab Riaz sheds light on the motive behind removing Shaheen

Now Pakistan’s selector and men’s team manager, Wahab Riaz explained that the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) decision to manage Shaheen’s workload stemmed from their recognition of his pivotal role as the team’s primary strike bowler, emphasizing the necessity to maintain his fitness for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024. Additionally, Wahab highlighted that while Babar may not have won any trophies as captain thus far, his extensive experience in leadership roles made him the most suitable candidate for the captaincy, particularly given the circumstances prevailing at the moment.

“We wanted to manage Shaheen Afridi’s workload because he’s our main strike bowler and we need him completely fit for the World Cup. Babar Azam is the most experienced captain in this squad, obviously, he hasn’t won any trophy but still, due to his experience, we thought Babar is the right choice for captaincy at this moment,” Wahab was quoted as saying by the Cricket Pakistan.

Also READ: Pakistan cricket appoints new head coach ahead of home T20I series against New Zealand

Criticism of Ramiz Raja’s remarks regarding Mohammad Amir

Additionally in response to former PCB chief Ramiz Raja‘s remarks regarding Mohammad Amir, Wahab expressed criticism, labeling Raja’s comments as “harsh,” Raja’s statement, indicating that he would disown Amir if he was his son due to the left-arm seamer’s involvement in match-fixing, drew strong rebuke from Wahab. Defending Amir, who recently returned to the national side after a four-year absence, Wahab emphasized the negativity of Raja’s remarks, asserting that such comments were unwarranted and unfair toward Amir.

“Ramiz Raja Saab’s comment on Mohammad Amir is very harsh. I don’t believe that he deserves that because it was a very negative comment,” the 38-year-old concluded.

Upcoming T20I series against New Zealand

Looking ahead, Babar’s leadership will be put to the test as Pakistan prepares to face New Zealand in a crucial five-match T20I series scheduled from April 18 to April 27. The series opener will take place at the historic Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, followed by two more matches in Rawalpindi before shifting to Lahore for the final two encounters. This series will present an opportune moment for Babar to showcase his captaincy prowess and guide Pakistan to success against a formidable opponent, thereby solidifying his position as a leader in Pakistan cricket’s future endeavours.

Also READ: Shaheen Afridi shares a ‘cruel’ story after losing Pakistan’s captaincy to Babar Azam

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