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Pakistan cricket talks mend captaincy crisis after Afridi row

Shaheen and PCB at odds over 'falsely attributed' statement on Babar captaincy
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Mohsin Naqvi meets former captain Shaheen Shah Afiridi in Kakul on April 01, 2024. PCB
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Mohsin Naqvi meets former captain Shaheen Shah Afiridi in Kakul on April 01, 2024. PCB

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Mohsin Naqvi held crisis talks on Monday to resolve the row after sacked captain Shaheen Shah Afridi denied quotes backing his successor.

Afridi, replaced by Babar Azam as skipper on Sunday, insisted he had not made comments backing his replacement that were quoted in a PCB statement.

On Monday, the PCB said Naqvi “held a meeting with the selection committee to talk about the team’s selection ahead of the New Zealand T20I series”.

“The meeting was also attended by captain Azam,” the PCB added without mentioning any separate meeting with Afridi.

However sources confirmed to AFP any confusion after Afridi’s statement denial had been removed and the former captain was shown shaking hands with Naqvi in a picture released by the PCB.

Twenty-nine Pakistan players are attending a training camp at army base Kakul in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province ahead of a five-match T20I home series against New Zealand starting from April 18.

The row developed following a PCB statement saying Afridi had “nothing but respect” for returning skipper Azam.

Shaheen, PCB ‘at odds’

Pakistan Cricket Board is dealing with a new crisis after star pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi said that a quote was falsely attributed to him regarding Babar Azam being made captain of the white ball side once again.

Reports say that the PCB and Afridi have held ‘crisis talks’ and Chairman Mohsin Naqvi will hold another meeting with the pacer on Monday to sort out the issue.

The matter began with the reappointment of Babar Azam as captain, less than a year after he was removed following a disappointing World Cup campaign.

Sources had already indicated that Afridi was not happy with how his removal had been handled.

However, matters turned even worse when the PCB issued a statement, quoting Afridi as saying that it was his ‘duty’ to back the new captain.

“As a team player, it is my duty to back our captain, Babar Azam. I have played under his captaincy and have nothing but respect for him. I will try to help him on and off the field,” the statement had said.

“We are all one. Our aim is the same, to help Pakistan become the best team in the world.”

Afridi was apparently not even asked to make a statement on the issue and has completely distanced himself from the words published in the PCB’s statement, according to ESPNCricinfo.

Azam stepped down in November last year after Pakistan crashed out of the 50 over World Cup in the first round in India.

“I will try to help him on and off the field. We are all one,” Afridi was quoted as saying on the PCB’s website on Sunday.

But a source close to Afridi denied he had signed off on the statement that implied a harmonious transfer of the top job.

The source added Afridi resented being replaced after being in charge for just one Twenty20 series.

“This is not Shaheen’s statement and he has contacted PCB to clarify this,” the source told AFP.

Fast bowler Afridi was in charge for Pakistan’s 4-1 loss in a Twenty20 Series in New Zealand in January.

Afridi also captained Lahore Qalandars as they finished last in the T20 Pakistan Super League that ended two weeks ago.

Naqvi, also Pakistan’s interior minister, has re-organised the selection committee in a bid to improve results in the forthcoming World Cup, also aiming to hire foreign coaches for the team.

Following the New Zealand series, Pakistan will play three T20Is in Ireland and four in England.

The T20 World Cup takes place in the United States and West Indies in June.

Both Azam and Afridi are currently attending a training camp in Kakul under the Pakistan Army.

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Shaheen Shah Afridi

Mohsin Naqvi