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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 July 2024

After T20 World Cup debacle, Pakistan Cricket Board focuses on groupism in team

According to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sources, the biggest challenge before Babar Azam on his comeback as captain was to unite the team but he could not do so because of the groupings

PTI Karachi Published 15.06.24, 02:53 PM
Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan, left, and Fakhar Zaman run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan, left, and Fakhar Zaman run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Tuesday, June 11, 2024 PTI

Pakistan's shock early exit from the T20 World Cup is being blamed on "groupings" within the team and non-performance of senior players during critical moments and it could lead to "major changes" not just in the team but also in the PCB.

According to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sources, the biggest challenge before Babar Azam on his comeback as captain was to unite the team but he could not do so because of the groupings.

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Shaheen Shah Afridi upset at losing the captaincy and Babar not supporting him when required while Muhammad Rizwan was unhappy at not being considered for the captaincy.

"There are three groups in the team, one led by Babar Azam, the second one by Shaheen Shaheen 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 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 said that Chairman Mohsin Naqvi was well aware of the problems in the team even before the World Cup and had been briefed by his right hand, 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 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 role of outside elements including agents of players and some former players who ran social media campaigns also have not helped ease the simmering tensions in the team.

Naqvi has now hinted at making changes in the national team but another well-informed source made it clear that changes would now also be made in the cricket board.

"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 WC debacle and there are calls for his head as well," said another PCB source.

Several reliable sources have also confirmed that Naqvi will not be making an immediate call on Babar Azam’s captaincy since Pakistan now plays its next white ball series in November.

"The one good thing for Naqvi is that Pakistan now has two test series lined up at home against Bangladesh and England and with Shan Masood already the test captain and a new head coach in Jason Gillispie and he doesn't have to worry about immediate changes.” Usually in Pakistan cricket a failed World Cup campaign means that heads roll and the board tends to search for scapegoats but this time even the cricket fans and critics are pushing the PCB to take steps to stop the fall of the team.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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