On Saturday, controversy hit Pakistan cricket when rumours flew over an alleged dressing room argument involving captain Babar Azam, following the side’s elimination from Asia Cup 2023. Pakistan faced substantial criticism after being knocked out of the tournament in the Super 4 stage; despite a strong start in the second round with a victory over Bangladesh, Pakistan encountered difficulties in their campaign, particularly after a resounding 228-run loss to arch-rivals India in Colombo. In a rain-affected must-win match against Sri Lanka, Babar Azam’s team made a valiant effort at a comeback, with Shaheen Afridi and Zaman Khan delivering impressive final overs. However, Charith Asalanka maintained his composure, guiding his side to victory on the last ball of the run-chase.
According to media reports, there have been indications that Babar Azam voiced his discontentment with the performances of certain senior players in the team. In response, Shaheen Shah Afridi advised Babar to recognize the contributions of those players who had performed admirably. This interaction reportedly prompted Mohammad Rizwan to intervene and mediate the situation, trying to find a resolution to the matter.
However, a senior member of Pakistan has now come out to deny the rumours. According to Pakistan’s leading website Cricket Pakistan, the senior player denied any altercation and insisted that players only shared their thoughts in the meeting.
“The team’s sole focus is on cricket, and we are not concerned about the critics. Losing a match gives our critics an opportunity to voice their opinions, but these are merely negative speculations,” the senior player said, as quoted by the website.
“In the team meeting, everyone shared their thoughts, but there is no truth to the rumors of a verbal altercation or the coaching staff needing to intervene. Everyone left the meeting together, and many teammates travelled back to Pakistan on the same flight.”
On Saturday, reports also emerged suggesting that Naseem Shah’s participation in the 2023 World Cup might be in jeopardy due to a shoulder injury he sustained during the Super 4 match against Pakistan. This injury concern adds to Pakistan’s woes, especially with Haris Rauf already facing scrutiny due to an injury issue.
These challenges are piling up for Babar Azam’s team as they gear up for the upcoming prestigious global tournament in India. Pakistan’s World Cup campaign is scheduled to commence on October 6 with a match against Netherlands.