"We love each other as much as we do our family" - Babar Azam quashes reports of a spat with Shaheen Shah Afridi
Pakistan captain Babar Azam recently squashed reports of any fight taking place with pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi after their loss in the Asia Cup 2023 Super Four game against Sri Lanka. The 28-year-old asserted that it was only a regular meeting and highlighted having one whenever they lose.
With the final-ball defeat against Sri Lanka in Colombo knocking the Men in Green out of Asia Cup 2023, there were reports of a rift in the dressing room as Babar and Shaheen shared heated exchanges.
However, the Pakistan captain was spotted at Shaheen's wedding function a few days after such rumors, with the latter also labelling Babar as his family.
While addressing a press conference on Tuesday before leaving for India for the 2023 ODI World Cup, here's what Babar Azam said:
"Respect is given to everyone. You see, whenever the match is close and we lose, it's just a regular meeting, but sometimes it's portrayed as if we had a fight. It shouldn't be like that. Respect should remain constant for everyone. We love each other as much as we do our family."
While Pakistan started their Asia Cup campaign promisingly, the wheels fell off in the Super Four stage, especially after a 228-run drubbing against India. Another defeat in the must-win game against Sri Lanka marked the end of their campaign.
"I cannot comment who will bowl the new ball or the old ball" - Babar Azam
Babar Azam admitted that they will miss Naseem Shah's expertise with the new ball and his combination with Shaheen. However, the Lahore-born cricketer didn't provide clarity on Shaheen's new-ball partner yet.
"Of course, we will miss Naseem Shah as Shaheen [Afridi] and Naseem bowling together gave us a different edge," Babar continued. "It was not easy to pick his replacement, but we all sat together and got input from [chief selector] Inzamam ul Haq. We went with Hasan Ali because he has experience."
"He has played the World Cup before. I cannot comment who will bowl the new ball or the old ball, as we cannot reveal our strategies right now," he added. "But we have not made any concrete plans right now, it will become more clear to us when we travel to India and assess the conditions."