Babar Azam is one of the world’s best batters these days. He has consistently scored runs in each of the game’s three formats. After Azhar Ali resigned in 2021, he was promoted to captain the Test team.
Azam got off to a winning start by defeating Zimbabwe 2-0 and South Africa 2-0 at home. However, during this World Test Championship cycle, the team’s performance under the talisman batter was subpar.
They lost every home match against England, New Zealand, and Australia. Pakistan also failed to win the West Indies and Sri Lanka series, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
The media has criticized the 28-year-old for the team’s poor home Test performance. His inability to win a single Test in seven matches does not reflect well on him as a leader. The star batter, who batted flawlessly in Test cricket last year, may feel some relief from the decision to step down.
Let’s take a look at the three possibilities for Pakistan’s red-ball captain to succeed Babar Azam.
Mohammad Rizwan appears to be the most obvious player for the position. He regularly participates in the leadership group and serves as a wicketkeeper. In 2020 and 21 he was in charge of Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand, where they lost 2-0.
Rizwan has leadership credentials, but they are presented differently. In the PSL’s 2021 season, he led the Multan Sultans to victory. This demonstrates that he is capable of leading a team and taking on leadership responsibilities.
On the other hand, his body has been a source of concern recently. Since his tour of Sri Lanka, he has only scored 261 runs in 10 innings. If he is able to correct that, he will undoubtedly be one of the top choices that management will take into consideration if Babar Azam leaves his position.
Shaheen Afridi has emerged as one of the best players to make their Pakistani debuts in the past five years. The left-arm fast bowler has made a big difference in all three types of games.
Shaheen, like Rizwan, demonstrated his leadership abilities in the PSL. When he led the Lahore Qalandars to their first PSL title last season, he became the youngest captain to win a major T20 trophy.
Given that Afridi has a history of sustaining a lot of injuries, it would be extremely challenging for him to effectively manage his workload. In order to ensure that he plays the majority of the Test matches at his highest level of fitness and leads the team to victory, the team may consider resting him more frequently in T20Is.
Ahmed Sarfaraz Ahmed is still one of only three Pakistan captains to have won an ICC trophy. From September 2017 to January 2019, he also led the nation in 13 Test matches, winning four, losing eight, and drawing one.
After nearly four years, Sarfaraz returned to the Test team’s playing XI in a two-match series against the Blackcaps. With scores of 86, 53, and 78, he had an immediate impact. He will definitely strengthen his case to play as a pure batter in the Pakistani test team if he plays a crucial knock on the fifth day of the 2nd Test.
He could be included in the playing XI alongside Mohammad Rizwan if he could contribute more consistently as a pure batter. As a result, the Men in Green may also have him as a potential leader.
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