PAK vs CAN: Azhar Mahmood hits back at Wasim Akram for spreading fake rumours of rift between Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi

Updated - 11 Jun 2024, 01:44 PM

Azhar Mahmood, Shaheen Afridi-Babar Azam and Wasim Akram
Azhar Mahmood, Shaheen Afridi-Babar Azam and Wasim Akram. Image Credit: Getty Images

Amidst speculation surrounding a reported discord between Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi, legendary pacer Wasim Akram stirred the pot by suggesting a rift between these star players of the Pakistan cricket team after their loss to India in the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2024.

Akram's remarks came after the Pakistan cricket team suffered a narrow defeat of six runs against Team India in their group match of the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024 in New York on Sunday.

Notably, the reports of rift came to the fore after Babar stripped away from captaincy and Afridi was named Pakistan's T20I captain before the star batter was reinstated as white-ball captain.

Azhar Mahmood reacts to Wasim Akram's sensational claims of a rift among Pakistani players

The former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram had said, “There are players who don’t want to talk to each other. This is international cricket, and you play for your country. Make these players sit at home.”

However, Pakistan's assistant coach, Azhar Mahmood, refuted his old buddy Akram's claims, as he has insisted that Babar and Afridi share a friendly relationship and are indeed on speaking terms.

Mahmood emphasized that both players are integral members of the Pakistan cricket team and share a great camaraderie off the field as well, quashing the rumors of a rift among the cricket fraternity.

Addressing the alleged rift between Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi, Mahmood stressed the collective responsibility of Pakistan team management, stating that any shortcomings cannot be attributed to individual players.

Well, Pakistan's assistant coach has reiterated that the team is united and responsible, with no players being sidelined or hidden from anything. Furthermore, Mahmood emphasized that collective efforts are required to address Pakistan's recent performance in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024.

As the Men in Green grapple with challenges, the coach reaffirmed the team's commitment to overcoming obstacles together and delivering improved results in their remaining two games against Canada and Ireland in the mega event.

Azhar Mahmood rejects claims of a rift between Shaheen Afridi and Babar Azam

Azhar Mahmood told media at the pre-match press conference: Wasim must have said that, but I don't know. I didn't see it. Shaheen and Babar are definitely talking, they are good friends. They are both part of the Pakistan team. Now when you ask who will take responsibility – I think we all, as a team management will take responsibility. We have not lost because of anyone, it is our mistake too.”

Mahmood further stated: “We are not hiding any players, everyone is there. Everything is there. I said earlier that we are a team. Obviously, we're sitting here, and it's our responsibility. We're not delivering. That's why I'm sitting here. Yesterday, Gary was sitting here. So definitely, it's not like we're hiding a player. They're part of us.”

The Pakistani coach also revealed that everyone's morale in the team is down at the moment, so it is important to lift the morale first, as he believes that the Men in Green can still bounce back in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024. He insisted that Pakistan won't lose hope until it's over.

In the end, Mahmood blamed the Pakistani batters for poor shot selection, which led to their embarrassing defeat against India. He signed off by saying, “Our shot selection wasn't right. We lost as a team and can't blame individuals.”


Wasim Akram Azhar Mahmood Babar Azam Shaheen Afridi Pakistan national cricket team ICC T20 World Cup