Pakistan captain Babar Azam and speedster Shaheen Afridi found themselves embroiled in a tense altercation after their team’s heart-wrenching exit from the Asia Cup. This bitter clash occurred in the wake of a devastating loss to Sri Lanka in the Super Fours on a fateful Thursday. In the aftermath of the defeat, Babar Azam, consumed by frustration, openly criticized the senior members of the team for their perceived failure to step up in a pivotal virtual knockout match.
However, Shaheen Afridi, perhaps seeking to inject a glimmer of optimism, interjected by urging Babar to focus on the positives and acknowledge those who had performed admirably. Regrettably, Babar did not take kindly to this interruption. He retorted, asserting that he was well aware of who had given their all and who had not, sparking a fiery exchange of words.
Such was the intensity of their dispute that it necessitated the intervention of Pakistan’s coach and their wicketkeeper, Mohammad Rizwan, who played peacemakers in the dressing room. Following this altercation, Babar Azam, seemingly drained by the events, proceeded directly to the press conference.
Afterwards, he made his way to the team bus and subsequently to the team hotel without engaging in any further communication. During the press conference, Babar Azam provided a candid assessment of Pakistan’s downfall against Sri Lanka.
“We weren’t up to the mark with our bowling and fielding. That’s why we lost” – Babar Azam
He pinpointed their inadequate performance during the middle overs, highlighting their subpar batting and lamenting their failure to disrupt the formidable partnership between Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama
He said, “We weren’t up to the mark with our bowling and fielding. That’s why we lost. In the middle overs, we are not bowling well. That partnership (between Mendis and Samarawickrama) cost us. We are starting well. We are finishing well, but we are not taking wickets in the middle overs.”
To compound Pakistan’s woes, there was the distressing news that their star fast bowler, Naseem Shah, might miss the upcoming World Cup due to a shoulder injury sustained during the Asia Cup Super Fours game against India earlier in the week. This added injury to insult, further deepening the sense of disappointment and frustration within the Pakistani cricket camp.
In the end, Pakistan faced not only a physical battle on the cricket field but also a psychological one within their own ranks.
How they would navigate these turbulent waters and emerge as a stronger and more cohesive unit would determine their prospects in the upcoming World Cup, where the eyes of the cricketing world would be firmly fixed upon them.