As per some news reports emerging from Pakistan, the team’s captaincy arrangement is set to undergo a major overhaul. Going forward, the team could have three separate captains for each game’s format. Apparently, Babar Azam is likely to retain T20 leadership but could lose the post in the other two formats. On the other hand, Sarfaraz Ahmed, who recently made a successful comeback to Pakistan’s Test playing XI after four years, could be given charge of the red-ball team. Also, Shan Masood could be named ODI captain, although the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has clarified that he needs to improve his batting.
It doesn’t end there; Shan was recently named vice-captain for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand. According to reports, Babar and some of the team’s senior players are unhappy with the decision. Some reports quoted sources claiming that Babar was not consulted regarding Shan’s appointment, but the opinion of Mickey Arthur, who has not even been appointed as a coach yet, was sought. Arthur believes that Shan could be a good future captain for Pakistan. However, in a bizarre turn of events, it has now been revealed that Arthur has turned down the offer to become the new head coach of the Pakistan men’s team.
Parallels with Kohli?
The situation developing with Babar in Pakistan is very similar to what happened with Virat Kohli in India. Amid his poor form and some disappointing results, questions were being raised about his captaincy across the three formats of the game. He initially quit the T20 leadership to focus on the other two formats. However, rather unceremoniously, the BCCI selection committee sacked him as a one-day leader, explaining that they only wanted one leader across white-ball formats. Subsequently, Kohli quit as Test leader after India’s disappointing 1-2 series loss in South Africa despite being 1-0 up.
While there was an open tussle between the former BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and Kohli over the latter’s exit, new PCB Chairman Najam Sethi and interim chief selector Shahid Afridi have thrown their weight behind Babar as a leader. After Pakistan’s 0-3 drubbing at home against England, Sethi commented, “Babar Azam is the star of Pakistan. Without him, the Pakistan team would be without its son of the soil. He is in our hearts and will always remain there.” He recently also said Babar had a free hand to pick the playing XI.
It sounds great, but it doesn’t take a lot to change in Pakistan cricket. We all know about how Ramiz Raja was sacked as PCB chief. Overnight, he launched a tirade against his former employer and the new PCB chief and continues to do so. There have been many instances of captains and coaches being sacked, reinstated and sacked again. Sethi himself is not new to the Pakistan cricket circus, having been PCB chairman before during the tenure of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan’s Prime Minister. You can never predict what will happen in Pakistan cricket, like Indian cricket.
All is not well between Sarfaraz and Babar?
Numerous media reports have been about not being well with Rohit Sharma and Kohli over the years. Both have rubbished rumours and are very cordial with each other. Now stories are emerging out of Pakistan cricket over Sarfaraz and Babar. The former was kept out of the Test playing XI for four years but made a tremendous return during the home series against New Zealand after Mohammad Rizwan was dropped.
The video of Babar and Imam-ul-Haq’s celebrations after Sarfaraz’s hundred in the second Test against the Kiwis went viral. However, one of the users criticized Babar, using the picture from that video, claiming he fake-praised the former captain. Shockingly, Sarfaraz liked the tweet but removed it after facing a lot of flak. So it remains to be seen how the tricky Sarfaraz-Babar equation pans out.