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Pakistan skipper Babar Azam could be sacked as captain if they fail to reach the semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hinted in a statement.
The Men in Green are currently fourth in the World Cup 2023 points table as they have lost three straight games: vs India, Australia and Afghanistan, after starting the tournament with a victory in their opening two matches against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.
Fans and some pundits have called for Azam to step down as Pakistan’s captain, especially after their embarrassing eight-wicket loss against Afghanistan on Monday 23 October. The PCB said they will “make decisions in the best interest of Pakistan cricket”.
Pakistan’s upcoming fixture against South Africa is a must-win outing for Azam and his boys. The match won’t be easy as the Proteas are having an extraordinary tournament with the bat. A loss in Chennai on Friday would effectively eliminate Pakistan from the World Cup.
Ahead of the crucial game, the PCB has urged their fans to back the team but also issued a bizarre message for Azam regarding his future captaincy prospects if Pakistan fail to qualify for the knockout round.
“Addressing the media scrutiny directed at captain Babar Azam and the team management, the board’s stance, echoing that of former cricketers, is that successes and defeats are part of the game. Captain Babar Azam and Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq were given freedom and support in forming the squad for the ICC World Cup 2023.
“Looking ahead, the board will make decisions in the best interest of Pakistan cricket based on the team’s performances in the World Cup. At present, the PCB encourages fans, former players and stakeholders to rally behind the team as they strive to make a triumphant comeback in the mega-event.”
Pakistan have just four points from five matches but they have still retained the fourth spot in the table so far. With four more matches remaining in their group stage, Azam and Co still have a chance to make it to the semi-final but their qualification will depend on the results of other teams.
“Only if Pakistan can stage a miracle and win all their remaining matches to qualify for the semifinals of this World Cup does Babar stand any chance of surviving as captain and even then he might be relegated to skipper in just the red-ball format,” NDTV reported a source close to the developments as saying.
Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi, wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan, and former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed are being considered as potential options as Azam’s replacement as the national team’s ODI captain, according to news reports.
Pakistan are scheduled to tour Australia immediately after the World Cup. The team also needs to plan for the 2024 T20 World Cup and 2025 ICC Champions Trophy.
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