Pakistan suffered a disappointing defeat against Sri Lanka in the ‘virtual semi-final’ of the Asia Cup 2023, missing the opportunity to book a spot in the tournament’s title clash against India. In a rain-affected 42-over contest in Colombo, Sri Lanka clinched victory on the final delivery of the match. Charith Asalanka, displaying remarkable composure, scored an unbeaten 49 runs, ensuring his team’s place in the Asia Cup 2023 final. Despite Shaheen Afridi’s late charge nearly snatching victory for Pakistan in the penultimate over, Asalanka’s nerve held firm as he steered Sri Lanka to a last-ball win, dashing Pakistan’s aspirations.
Following Pakistan’s exit from the tournament, there has been heavy criticism of the side’s performances and Babar Azam‘s in general, whose captaincy came under significant scanner throughout the tournament. Some of the playing XI decisions – particularly the over-reliance on an underperforming Shadab Khan – met with criticism and former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi made a rather interesting remark on the current side.
Afridi has worked with Babar Azam and the team management during his brief stint as chief selector following the reshuffling in the Pakistan Cricket Board earlier this year, and revealed that it was a chaotic experience.
“I came in as chief selector for one month. Believe me, there were so many problems. Captain had one choice, the coach has another. Both give me different reports. Players give me different reports altogether. Communication is so broke, I was baffled at how is this board even running? There is no coordination, no communication between these guys,” Afridi recalled on Samaa TV.
While Afridi insisted that he would keep his faith in Babar, the former skipper stressed on the need for the retired cricketers currently in the PCB, as well as team director Mickey Arthur to have a talk with the captain over his decision-making, and nurturing his leadership mindset.
“We are going to World Cup. All the seniors, including head coach, Mickey, have to talk to him. Make him strong. Don’t fear from making tough decisions. Don’t worry about losses. Either you win, or you learn. My issue is, you’ve been leading the side for 3 years. Come on. There are professionals around you. Talk to them and improve your captaincy. You’re a big player, but you would want people to also remember you as captain,” stated Afridi.
Pakistan return to action in World Cup
The Babar Azam-led side will now return to action in the 2023 World Cup, for which the side travels to India later this month. Pakistan will take part in two warm-up matches before beginning their campaign on October 6 against Netherlands.