India’s World Cup winning captain, Kapil Dev, has expressed his support for Babar Azam amidst the criticism surrounding the Pakistan captain’s leadership following his team’s exit from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.
The pressure on Azam intensified as Pakistan failed to reach the semi-finals, losing five out of nine games, including a big defeat against India. That was India’s eighth victory in eight World Cup games against Pakistan. Pakistan also lost to Afghanistan for the first time.
Azam made 320 runs at the World Cup with four fifties at an average of 40 and remains the world’s second highest-ranked batsman.
However, it was his captaincy in India which was questioned when he faced accusations of lacking aggression in field settings.
While speaking on a YouTube podcast, Kapil defended Azam, emphasizing that judging him solely based on current performance would be unfair. He pointed out Azam’s previous achievements, highlighting that he had led the Pakistan team to the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings just six months prior.
“If you say that Babar Azam is not the right choice [for captaincy] today, it is because you are looking at just his current performance. He was the same captain, who made Pakistan team No.1 [in ICC ODI rankings] six months ago.”
“When someone gets out for zero, 99 per cent of the people would want him to be dropped. If an ordinary player comes and scores a brilliant hundred, then they call him a superstar. So don’t look at just current performance. Look at how he has approached the game, how much passion and talent he has,” Kapil said.
Kapil Dev talking about Babar Azam pic.twitter.com/EDWReOJcuv
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Meanwhile, former PCB chairman, Ramiz Raja believes that Azam may become the first victim of bloodletting in a Pakistan cricketing environment often plagued by infighting.
“There’s so much pressure on him that he may leave the job,” Raja told the BBC’s Test Match Special.
“Back home there has obviously been a massive backlash, as expected. The Pakistan media have targeted certain players, and especially Babar Azam.
“It’s just a World Cup so you have to take the heat somehow. The problem with this team is it has the potential to play modern-day cricket but they have been a bit shy and timid with their approach,” Raja added.
Raja also criticized the entire Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and defended Azam, blaming the overall system for the team’s performance. He questioned the PCB’s approach of changing captains and coaching staff without addressing deeper issues within the system.