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Amid T20 World Cup, Pakistan Stars Clash Live On Air Over Babar’s Captaincy

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Pakistan cricketers Imam-ul-Haq and Ahmed Shehzad got into a heated debate on live television, where the latter accused national team captain Babar Azam of favouring players despite poor form. Appearing on the talk show ‘Haarna Mana Hai!’ (Losing Is Not An Option!), Imam countered allegations made by Ahmed Shehzad about the integrity and decision-making of Babar Azam and the Pakistan Cricket Board. Shehzad had made the argument that senior Pakistan players also play against weaker opponents, reducing opportunities for young players. Shehzad – who has played 13 Tests and 81 ODIs for Pakistan – even referred to Team India, and how Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are often rested to give youngsters a chance.

The main talking point of the show was around Babar Azam’s captaincy. Babar had resigned as captain after Pakistan failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2023 Cricket World Cup, handing over the reigns to Shaheen Afridi. However, just before the 2024 T20 World Cup, Babar has been handed back leadership.

While Shehzad argued that Shaheen had been stripped of his captaincy unfairly, Imam defended Babar, saying that the board had taken the decision, and that Babar had not requested his captaincy back.

“Babar was removed without his consent and reinstated without his consent as well. The board re-appointed him as captain. In 2021, we reached the semifinals. Later in 2022, we played the final, which means there were performances. We didn’t win, that can be a debate. We didn’t click in the final. You can say Babar likes these lot of players but terming it as friendship is quite personal,” Imam said.

Shehzad, 32, hit back at 28-year-old Imam-ul-Haq. “We understand that Imam is in a central contract, he is young. We spoke the same when were at his age. I’m 34, sick and tired of things. We want things to be better. When you drag players for 4-5 years, you do wrong with those performing in domestic. Someone else takes their rights,” Shehzad replied.

However, Imam responded by saying his opinion would remain the same at all times.

“I have a Central contract, yes, but I promise to you that when I’m 36, I will still have the same stance as I have now,” explained Imam to the host.

Pakistan supporters will hope that this off-the-field debate does not impact their team, who are aiming for a second T20 World Cup title in the West Indies and USA this month.

The men in green take on hosts USA in their opening game on June 6, before the high-octane tie against India on Sunday, June 9.

 Pakistan cricketers Imam-ul-Haq and Ahmed Shehzad engaged in a heated discussion about Babar Azam’s captaincy.    

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