Babar Azam Under Scrutiny Ahead of New Zealand Series

Babar Azam Under Scrutiny Ahead of New Zealand Series

The upcoming limited-overs home series against New Zealand could prove to be a significant opportunity for Pakistan to prepare for the World Cup 2023. However, all eyes are on skipper Babar Azam, who has come under strict scrutiny. Despite being the most prolific batter for the side, Azam’s role as Pakistan’s all-format captain is being questioned.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi has attempted to brush off the ongoing speculations. However, he has fallen short of providing full support for the 28-year-old batter. In a series of tweets on Monday, Sethi stated that the views of selection committees headed by Shahid Afridi and Haroon Rashid were sought. Both committees believed that the status quo should be retained. Sethi has since publicly stated this position, but he made it clear that his decision would depend on the success or failure of the status quo.

Azam is now under immense pressure to prove his mettle by leading his team to victory in the ODI and T20I series against New Zealand, which starts later this week in Lahore. The skipper has a full-strength team at his disposal, including comeback pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi. This is in stark contrast to the series against Afghanistan, which Pakistan lost after fielding a second-string team.

The New Zealand cricket team, led by Tom Latham, arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday to play five ODIs and as many T20Is. High-security measures were in place as they were escorted from Lahore airport to their hotel. The team will commence practice from Thursday.

New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell expressed his excitement about playing the T20 and ODI series in Pakistan, saying that conditions are quite different from those in New Zealand. Young players in the team who have not played in these conditions before will gain experience, he added.

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The T20I matches will take place in Lahore (April 14, 15, 17) and Rawalpindi (April 20, 24), and the ODIs will be held in Rawalpindi (April 27, 29) and Karachi (May 3, 5, 7).

Ahmad Safi
Journalist | News Reporter

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