T20 World Cup 2024: Shahid Afridi wants Babar Azam to kick Azam Khan out of Team Pakistan

Updated - 27 May 2024, 05:49 PM

Shahid Afridi and Azam Khan
Shahid Afridi and Azam Khan. Image Credit: X/Getty Images

Former Pakistan captain and legendary all-rounder Shahid Afridi questioned Azam Khan’s place in the national team with a bold statement. Azam was picked in Pakistan’s squad for the ongoing four-match T20I series in England as well as for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2024.

Azam doesn’t have great stats in the shorter format of the game, and even his fitness stats are very poor, which baffled Afridi. The former captain said that he would have never picked the wicketkeeper-batter in his team, given his current fitness level.

Afridi further emphasized the importance of fitness in the game, citing it as crucial for the overall performance of a player in batting, bowling, and fielding. The legendary all-rounder also expressed concerns about Azam’s fitness' impact on his wicketkeeping abilities, particularly in different playing conditions in the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024.

Shahid Afridi criticizes Azam Khan's selection for T20 World Cup 2024

Shahid Afridi highlighted the challenges Azam might face due to his fitness, especially when keeping wickets in the West Indies, where the ball tends to stay low, in the upcoming 20-team ICC tournament.

He noted that Azam's performance behind the stumps could be affected by these conditions, so he has reservations about playing him at least as a wicketkeeper-batter for Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2024 in the USA and Caribbean.

Shahid Afridi said on the Samaa TV: “Fitness is the main thing. If you are fit, your body language gives it away on the ground, be it while batting, bowling, or fielding. You can’t compromise on fitness. I would never let Azam Khan get anywhere near the team as far as fitness is concerned. In England, the ball carries behind the stumps (while keeping).

But when they’ll go to the West Indies, the ball won’t carry as much there, it will keep low. I hope he doesn’t struggle, but I am worried about his keeping against spinners in West Indian conditions with this fitness, because the ball stays low there and you have to keep your body low as well.”

Notably, Azam Khan is an aggressive batter, but his fitness has always been a hot topic of discussion ever since he made his debut for Pakistan. He has so far played 12 T20Is and scored in only 88 matches. He had scored 11 runs off 10 balls during Pakistan’s 23-run loss to England in the second T20I.

England and Pakistan will play the third T20I of the series on May 28 in Cardiff, followed by the fourth and final game on May 30 at The Oval, before heading to the USA and Caribbean for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024. The Men in Green will kick off their campaign against the USA on June 6.

Pakistan squad for ICC T20 World Cup 2024:

Babar Azam (c), Saim Ayub, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Azam Khan (wk), Usman Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Abbas Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Abrar Ahmed.


Azam Khan Shahid Afridi Pakistan national cricket team ICC T20 World Cup 2024 ICC T20 World Cup