‘Three groups in the team; Afridi unhappy, Rizwan unhappy, Babar unable to unite players’: Pakistan’s recipe for World Cup disaster | Cricket News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s shock early exit from the ongoing 2024 ICC T20 World Cup is being attributed to internal team “groupings” and the underperformance of senior players. This situation may prompt significant changes not only within the team but also in the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Sources from the PCB reveal that a major challenge for Babar Azam upon his return as captain was to unify the team, but he struggled due to these internal divisions.
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Shaheen Shah Afridi was reportedly unhappy about losing the captaincy and felt unsupported by Babar, while Muhammad Rizwan was dissatisfied about not being considered for the captaincy.
“There are three groups in the team, one led by Babar Azam, the second one by Shaheen Shah Afridi, and the third one by Muhammad Rizwan. Add to this mix the return of seniors like Muhammad Aamir and Imad Wasim and the recipe was ready for a World Cup disaster,” a source close to the team told PTI.

The source continued, “The return of Imad and Amir added to the confusion as it was difficult for Babar to get any worthwhile performances from both of them as they had not played top-level domestic or international cricket for a long while now except in franchise-based leagues.”

“There were even instances where some players were not talking to each other and a few of them even tried to appease all the group leaders in the team,” added the source.

A senior PCB official mentioned that chairman Mohsin Naqvi was aware of the team’s problems even before the World Cup, as he had been briefed by national selector and senior manager, Wahab Riaz.
“Naqvi held two meetings with all the players in private and gave them pep talks asking them to put their issues aside and focus on winning the World Cup and he would remove all misgivings in the team later on but apparently things didn’t work out.”
“I am not defending Babar but what is a captain supposed to do when your premier bowler can’t even defend 15 runs in the final over against a weak USA side and concedes a boundary and six on full tosses. Or when an all-rounder brought out of retirement to help win the World Cup sits out with fitness issues,” the source added.

Naqvi has suggested that he may make changes to the national team, but sources indicate that there will also be changes within the cricket board itself.
“The chairman obviously is going to clean up things in the team but already he has started a process of performance-related appraisals of senior and mid-level employees in the board,” the source claimed.
“You will see major changes in the team and at management level in the board now,” he said.
“Naqvi is himself facing problems as he is not the ruling government’s choice to head the board. He is also now facing criticism for the World Cup debacle and there are calls for his head as well,” said another PCB source to PTI.

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