Shahid Afridi has expressed his concern regarding Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, stating that Babar doesn’t provide the same assurance of being a match-winner as Virat Kohli and KL Rahul do for India.

Pakistan’s fortunes in the World Cup 2023 have started to improve, gradually altering their course. Despite facing several off-field controversies and being on the brink of elimination due to four consecutive losses, Pakistan has gained a fresh perspective with their convincing 7-wicket victory against Bangladesh in Kolkata. Moreover, South Africa’s triumph over New Zealand has shifted Pakistan’s destiny back into their hands. To secure a place in the next phase, Pakistan must win their upcoming two matches against England and New Zealand while maintaining a superior run rate compared to New Zealand’s.

Nevertheless, the performance of Babar Azam, the Pakistan team’s captain, has been a subject of discussion. Despite being anticipated as a key player in the tournament, he hasn’t performed at his best. With three half-centuries in seven matches, Babar’s achievements fall short of the high expectations set for him. A peculiar pattern arises when observing that Pakistan has lost every match in which Babar has scored over 50 runs during this World Cup.

For instance, he scored 50 runs against India, but Pakistan still lost. Similarly, he made 74 runs against Afghanistan, resulting in another loss. His third half-century came against South Africa, yet Pakistan faced defeat once more. In contrast, Babar contributed only 5, 10, and 9 runs in the three matches Pakistan won against Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, which are among his lowest scores. The team is not successful when their top batter scores well, but they manage to win when he doesn’t perform. This baffling phenomenon raises questions.

Shahid Afridi suggests that Babar’s inability to convert his good starts into substantial innings is one of the key reasons for Pakistan’s struggles. In critical moments, Babar’s wicket has become a turning point, such as in the match against India, where Pakistan’s batting line-up collapsed after his dismissal. Afridi emphasized that Babar’s half-centuries are not proving advantageous for Pakistan, as he fails to steer the team to victory.

Afridi contrasts Babar’s approach with that of India’s Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, who ensure they stay at the crease till the end of the innings to secure wins for their team. He explained that it’s not just about scoring runs but also about effectively contributing to the team’s success by staying till the end.

“Babar Azam’s ability to accumulate runs is one thing, but the ability to win matches with those runs is different. Look at what Virat Kohli and KL Rahul do. They accumulate runs, face deliveries, and ensure that they win the match for their team. I’m a fan of Babar, there’s no doubt about that. We call Babar a big player. Reaching that level is one thing, but maintaining your performance at that level is far more challenging. When Babar Azam comes in to bat, we should feel confident that he will win the match for us. Unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t come. We expect him to score 50-60 runs, but we are not as confident that he will secure the win,” Afridi remarked during his appearance on SAMAA TV.

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