by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
India’s World Cup-winning captain, Kapil Dev, has voiced his support for Babar Azam amidst the criticism surrounding the Pakistani captain’s leadership following his team’s exit from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.
Pressure on Azam intensified as Pakistan failed to reach the semi-finals, losing five out of nine games, including a significant defeat against India – the eighth consecutive victory for India against Pakistan in World Cup matches. Pakistan also faced an unexpected loss to Afghanistan.
During the World Cup, Azam scored 320 runs with four fifties at an average of 40, maintaining his position as the world’s second-highest-ranked batsman. However, his captaincy, particularly against India, was criticized for allegedly lacking aggression in field settings.
In a YouTube podcast, Kapil defended Azam, asserting that judging him solely based on current performance would be unjust. Kapil highlighted Azam’s past achievements, noting that he had led the Pakistan team to the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings just six months prior.
“If you say that Babar Azam is not the right choice [for captaincy] today, it is because you are looking at just his current performance. He was the same captain who made the Pakistan team No.1 [in ICC ODI rankings] six months ago,” Kapil stated.
Kapil emphasized the need to consider Azam’s overall approach to the game, passion, and talent, cautioning against focusing solely on recent performance fluctuations.
Meanwhile, former PCB chairman, Ramiz Raja, expressed concern that Azam might become the first victim of internal conflicts within the often tumultuous Pakistan cricketing environment. Raja suggested that the intense pressure on Azam could lead him to step down from the captaincy.
“The problem with this team is it has the potential to play modern-day cricket but they have been a bit shy and timid with their approach,” Raja added.
Raja also criticized the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), blaming the entire system for the team’s performance. He questioned the PCB’s tendency to change captains and coaching staff without addressing deeper systemic issues.