"It is not a bed of roses" - Shahid Afridi blasts Babar Azam's captaincy amidst Pakistan's 2023 World Cup debacle

Babar Azam has come under heavy scrutiny for his uninspired captaincy
Babar Azam has come under heavy scrutiny for his uninspired captaincy

Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi criticized Babar Azam for his questionable moves and a lack of applying pressure at critical moments after the side lost a third straight 2023 World Cup game against Afghanistan.

Babar has received criticism from all corners. Recent reports state that Babar might be removed from captaincy following the World Cup should the side not script a miraculous turnaround.

While the Men in Green achieved World No.1 status in ODIs at the start of the Asia Cup under Babar Azam, it has gone downhill since on the field and in the dressing room, with several reported rifts amongst players. Pakistan finished at the bottom of the Super Fours of the Asia Cup and has lost three consecutive games in the ongoing World Cup after winning their opening two fixtures.

Speaking on a Local Sports show, as quoted by Geo Super, Shahid Afridi admitted while captaining a side is a matter of great honor, it comes with its share of pressures.

"Captaining your national side is a matter of honour but it is not a bed of roses. When you do good, everyone praises you and when you don't, everyone blames you as well as the head coach," Afridi said.

Afridi also cited the example of Australia and how they constantly apply pressure after picking up wickets to keep the opposition on their toes.

"It is the captain's job to apply pressure, a pacer is bowling and there is no slip? Four are required on 12 balls and you've taken backward point? Apply pressure. What do the Australians do? They take one to two wickets and then put all of their players in the circle to apply pressure, like they did against Pakistan," he added.

Although the Men in Green suffered defeats to arch-rivals India and Australia, the Afghanistan loss has several former players and fans calling for Babar's head.

The 29-year-old has led the side in 130 games across formats, with 76 wins and 42 losses and a 58.46 win percentage.

"We are waiting for miracles, miracles don't just happen" - Shahid Afridi

Pakistan's fielding has been suspect right through the World Cup.
Pakistan's fielding has been suspect right through the World Cup.

Shahid Afridi also lashed out at Pakistan's abysmal fielding display in the World Cup and blamed the captain for the team's collective lack of effort.

They lost their first-ever game to Afghanistan in the previous outing, with the tactics and fielding under heavy criticism.

"When you are not in the game [not focused], then these things [fielding issues] will happen. When you are trying to hide somewhere, when you are not thinking positively, I think that at times we are waiting for miracles, miracles don't just happen. They happen with brave men who know how to fight," Afridi continued.
"Look, a captain is everything. If a captain gives his best, dives during the field, backs other players between overs, the entire team will get [more] active, because when they see that the captain is giving his all and we are not, they feel ashamed that my captain is doing so much, why can't I be the same?" Afridi added.

Shahid Afridi, who captained Pakistan in 82 games across formats, including the 2011 World Cup, also referred to the examples of himself, Mohammad Yousuf, and Inzamam ul Haq, often setting the tone on the field for others to emulate.

"It has happened in the past, when I was the captain or Mohammad Yousuf was, when we used to run in the ground and support players, then the entire team used to charge up," he added further.
"When Inzamam would dive during the field, then, believe me, we players used to feel ashamed that why are we not diving when the captain is. At the end of the day, everything comes right back to the captain," he signed off.

With only two wins in five games, Pakistan are in a virtual must-win situation in their remaining matches going forward.

They will take on the in-form South African side at Chennai on Friday, October 27.

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Edited by Ankush Das