Babar circuitously admits differences with Wasim over team selection for Africa tour

Babar circuitously admits differences with Wasim over team selection for Africa tour

LAHORE: Pakistan captain Babar Azam on Friday indirectly admitted that he was not in complete agreement with chief selector Mohammad Wasim on picking national squads for all three formats for the upcoming trips to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“First of all it is good for everyone if no news is leaked to media [about the discussion on team selection]. Everything which happens in closed-door meetings should remain there,” Babar said while replying to a volley of questions during a virtual press conference on rumours in media that he did not get his like-minded squads for the Africa tour.

The national training camp for the twin tour started at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.

Rumours are circulating in media circles that Babar differed with Wasim on certain players, while the former is not happy that the information about the meeting with the chief selector was leaked to media.

“It is not my but our team, I go with this understanding and I welcome the new players and the team,” the skipper said.

“I have to select 11 playing members for the match as captain,” the 26-year-old said, signalling that head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has been sidelined from team selection-related matters.

Says Sharjeel is a match winner

When it was underlined Wasim said that Sharjeel Khan was picked on his (Babar’s) advice and how he preferred an unfit Sharjeel, the captain acknow­ledged it and defended that the dashing left-handed opener is a match-winner and is in good form too.

“Sharjeel has the ability to change the situation in any match. He will [also] improve his fitness level. He is not a bad fielder [either] as I witnessed it while playing with him for Karachi Kings in PSL,” Babar said of the 31-year-old aggressive batsman.

Speaking on the Africa tour, the right-handed Babar said the ODI and T20 matches hold great importance as the 50-over games in Zimbabwe were part of the World Cup qualifying round while the T20 matches were crucial for this year’s World Cup in India.

He said the Tests against Zimbabwe were a great opportunity for the players, particularly newcomers to shape up as Pakistan in the near future had to play a good number of Tests, on their tour to West Indies and against New Zealand at home.

During 18 months of national captaincy, Babar said, he had learned a lot and his main target was to bring Pakistan at least in the top three teams in every format.

Commenting on the South Africa leg of the tour, the skipper hoped the batsmen would play their role.

“[Hopefully] our batsmen will post good totals against South Africa to enable the bowlers to defend them as bowlers win matches,” he said.

“South Africa is a strong team and at home, they become a more challenging outfit. However, my team will give them tough time with a mission to win the matches.”

To a question, Babar said he always used his authority as captain for a deserving player.

He said as one year had passed that cricket was going under Covid-19 challenges, now the players were mentally prepared to deal with all the challenges.

“[Members of] the Pakistan team prefer to spend time with each other to avoid stress and they also help those who face stress due to SOPs after a certain time.”

To a question, Babar said both Azam Khan and Sohaib Maqsood were invited to Lahore’s National High Performance Centre to bring improvement in their skills and fitness to be available for the Pakistan team in the future.

Interestingly, Mohammad Wasim in his statement on Thursday had said that Azam and Sohaib were invited to the NHPC as a reward for their outstanding performance at the domestic level.

Meanwhile, Babar was not willing to answer any question about a scandal in which a woman has alleged that she received life threats from him. A sessions court of law on Thursday ordered the FIA to register a case against Babar under the cyber crime act.

“I will not say any word since my lawyers are dealing with the case and soon good news will come,” Babar said on the matter that surfaced after he was named the Test skipper before Pakistan’s tour to New Zealand last December-January.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2021


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