Wasim Akram (Photo by Philip Brown/Popperfoto via Getty Images)
Legendary Wasim Akram defended Babar Azam’s captaincy after the latter received massive criticism following their 2023 ODI World Cup exit. Despite making their best of the starts, Pakistan struggled and suffered four consecutive defeats after winning the first two games. The Men in Green staged a significant comeback after winning the next two games, though, they suffered a humiliating defeat in their last league stage match which led to their elimination from the ongoing tournament.
Babar became the focal point as many suggested that he should step down from the captaincy role. Moreover, he was also criticized for his performance with the bat, as he managed to amass only 320 runs in nine games. Meanwhile, Akram lambasted those who are criticizing the 29-year-old, stating it is the shortcoming of the management that caused Pakistan’s poor campaign and nobody can make Babar a ‘scapegoat.’
“The captain alone is not playing the game. Yes he did make captaincy errors in this World Cup and in Asia Cup as well. But he isn’t alone to blame. This is a fault of the entire system for the last one year or more where the players don’t know who is the coach. You cannot make him the scapegoat here,” The 57-year-old said during his conversation on A Sports.
The cricketer-turned-commentator affirmed that the captaincy pressure has affected his performance in the ongoing tournament. Furthermore, he also lost his world No. 1 ICC batting ranking in the ODI format amid the competition.
“Babar is a star player and when he scores then the entire nation becomes happy and proud. But captaincy has put a pressure on Babar’s performance. He indeed looked stressed, both in World Cup and Asia Cup. So he needs to learn how to handle pressure and think only as a batsman and how to get runs when he is there at the crease. It is easier said than done,” he added.
If the fast bowlers and the spinners are not performing then Babar is not the only one to blame: Misbah-ul-Haq
Misbah-ul-Haq, former Pakistan captain, who was part of the panel, backed Akram’s views, stating if the bowlers’ performance was not up to the mark, one cannot blame Babar alone. He further blasted the team management, the selectors, and the captain as well for selecting “out-of-form” players.
“As a fan of Babar, we did expect that he would be among the top-three run-getters. But in Indian conditions, he failed. And in terms of resources, all were toothless. If the fast bowlers and the spinners are not performing then Babar is not the only one to blame. But when it comes to leadership, everyone has to take the blame, whether it is the team management, selectors, coaches, and Babar. It is because these resources were picked by them and you backed these out-of-form players,” Misbah said.