Babar Azam resigns as Pakistan skipper from all formats; Masood and Afridi get leadership roles

KARACHI, Nov 15: Babar Azam on Wednesday quit as Pakistan captain across formats, four days after his team’s elimination from the World Cup, where the former champions finished fifth.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appointed Shaheen Shah Afridi as their new T20I captain and Shan Masood as their Test captain shortly after Babar stepped down from the role.

Babar announced his decision on social media.

“Today, I am stepping down as captain of Pakistan from all formats. It’s a difficult decision but I feel this is right time for this call,” Babar wrote in his statement, posted on X.

Babar faced scathing criticism for his team selection and many accused him of creating a coterie with the players of his liking, including Imam ul Haq, Mohammed Nawaz, Shadab Khan to name a few.

With no ODIs scheduled in the near future, the PCB has not named a captain for the format.

“I am extremely grateful to the cricket board, stakeholders who saw in me that I can take on this responsibility,” Masood said after his appointment.

“There are challenges, and red ball cricket is the toughest format. The onus now is not just on the leader but on everyone to take Pakistan’s red ball team forward, create an identity, prepare the kind of a blueprint that would excite our fans.”

Pakistan lost five of their nine games, including a shock defeat to Afghanistan in the World Cup, bringing Babar’s leadership under scanner.

The 34-year-old Masood has featured in 30 Tests, scoring 1,597 runs, which includes four centuries and seven half-centuries but was overlooked for the Asia Cup and World Cup.

The PCB said that Masood has been appointed captain till the end of the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle.

His first assignment will be a three-match Test series in Australia starting December 14.

Afridi’s first assignment as captain will be the five-match T20I series in New Zealand from January 12 to 21.

The 23-year-old Afridi has captained Lahore Qalandars to two Pakistan Super League titles in the last two years.

The PCB said that Pakistan’s captain in the ODI format will be announced in due course of time.

The board also confirmed that when Babar met with chairman Ashraf he was relieved of the captaincy of only the white ball formats and was told to lead in Test matches, an offer which he turned down.

Experts and critics had called for a change of guard and Babar was summoned for a post-mortem of the team’s performance by PCB’s management committee head Zaka Ashraf.

Babar made it clear that he will support the new skipper in every way possible.

“I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats. I am here to support the new captain and the team with my experience and dedication. I want to express my sincere thanks to Pakistan Cricket Board for entrusting me with this significant responsibility,” he added.

Ashraf, on his part, also copped a lot of flak when he issued a statement  in the middle of the tournament that the squad selected for World Cup was done at the behest of erstwhile chairman Inzamam ul Haq and skipper Babar.

He had mentioned that a decision would be taken at the end of the tournament and it was clear that Babar didn’t have PCB’s back.

During his tenure, Pakistan became No. 1 ranked team in ODIs on the back of some solid performances at home on placid pitches against second string teams from SENA countries and relatively weaker Asian teams.

“Reaching the No. 1 spot in white ball formats was a result of collective effort of players, coaches and management,” he stated.

He was made the captain in 2019 and he admitted that he has experienced both highs and lows after he first got a call from PCB informing of their decision of appointing him the leader of the national team.

“Over the past four years, I have experienced many highs and lows on and off the field but I have wholeheartedly and passionately tried to maintain Pakistan’s pride and respect in cricket world,” he said. (PTI)

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