In the latest in a cricket-heavy week, former Indian opening batsman Gautam Gambhir called Pakistan’s Babar Azam “a lazy captain”—a jibe that has added fire to an ongoing debate in Pakistan concerning Babar’s captaincy and poor performance in the T20 World Cup. Several cricketers, fans, and experts share Gambhir’s sentiment.
“Babar Azam is a selfish captain, he should be acting like Wasim bhai when he was captain,” remarked one Twitter user. “There is only one sport left in Pakistan and under Babar Azam’s captaincy, the team’s graph is not going in an upward trajectory,” pointed out another—painting a picture of dire straits.
Pakistan scraped together a win against the Netherlands– their first in the T20 World Cup 2022– after suffering twin losses against India and Zimbabwe. Babar got out after scoring four runs.
Gambhir accused Babar of being selfish.“If you are failing, something should be changed, if you are failing as an opener, then you should have changed the number and opened with Fakhar Zaman,” he said.
There are multiple complaints from the other side of the border. Babar has been slammed by legendary Pakistani pace duo Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis for his ‘selfish’ leadership.
Babar has to learn
Akram, who has worked with Babar at Pakistan Super League’s Karachi Kings, attested to Gautam Gambhir’s claim, recounting that he once asked Babar to drop down to No.3, so they could play Martin Guptill at the top, but he refused.
“All of these things begin at the top. And at the top is your captain. If your captain plays for himself and is insecure. If your captain scores runs and lets other batters play at his position, you get to know that your captain is ready to sacrifice himself for you, this Babar has to learn,” said Akram.
“I have been through this by the way with Babar, at Karachi Kings, yes. In the team we had a couple of bad phases and I requested him once or twice nicely, that please come down at number 3, we’ll try something different. Let (Martin) Guptill bat at the top, seeing he is an opener. And he (Babar) said I would not go down, you ask Sharjeel to bat at 3, and he (Sharjeel) is a natural opener too. And these little things that the captain does, the team senses too,” Akram, who is regarded as one of the world’s greatest fast bowlers,” he added.
Waqar Younis, former head coach of Pakistan’s cricket team, also chimed in. “The difference between being a captain and the leader, well that’s the difference,” he said.
Babar’s decision to open against the Netherlands, despite his “dismal performance” has come under fire. The cricketer tops the list of openers who have struggled to perform well so far at the World Cup.
The cricketer, who is Pakistan’s highest run-getter in the T20 format, has failed to reach even double digits in the ongoing tournament.
Indian cricketer Amit Mishra has also given his two bits. “This too shall pass. Stay Strong @babarazam258”, he wrote. The tweet has gone viral, with nearly 76,000 likes. Many are interpreting this as a dig at Babar, who had previously tweeted the same in support of Virat Kohli during the Asia cup.
As highs and lows are part and parcel of sports, some are awaiting Babar’s grand comeback. “Two of three bad games don’t make you a bad player! Babar Azam is our most consistent performer, he needs our support and backing. He will be back with a big match-winning innings soon,” declared former captain Shahid Afridi.
(Edited by Ratan Priya)