New Delhi: If Pakistani cricket fans had their way, Babar Azam would be ensconced in bubble wrap. A video of the cricket captain riding his red BMW superbike on the streets of Lahore elicited panic among his fans who immediately suggested he abandon his need for speed—at least until the World Cup in October this year.
Even Pakistanis abroad expressed their concern. “You are very precious bhai, please don’t ride a bike,” wrote Khalid Minhas, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Toledo in Ohio.
Azam, who posted the video on his social media, was riding the bike on a seemingly empty road with a helmet on. But his fanbase was having none of it.
Ready, set, GO! 🏍️ pic.twitter.com/BvwwiFuVCG
— Babar Azam (@babarazam258) May 24, 2023
“Good that you are wearing Helmet & riding with safety measures. Still be careful You are an Asset of Pakistan (sic),” wrote cricketer Majid Majeed.
Others urged him to give it a rest, at least for the time being. “Easy there Bobby! Could this need for speed wait till after the ODI World Cup?” wrote Behram Qazi, a Grassroots Cricket correspondent.
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Faizan Lakhani, deputy editor, sports Geo News said that the replies are a manifestation of the people’s love and care for the player. “However, Babar understands what is needed to be done for his safety and to keep himself fit for World Cup or other events. His bike riding isn’t something new. Fans wouldn’t have known if he had not posted this.”
Pakistanis have high expectations from Azam, who was appointed captain of the cricket team for all three formats in November 2020. His supporters insist that under his captaincy, the Pakistan cricket team is believed to have witnessed an improvement in its performance in the T20 format. The team managed to reach the finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup last year, where it lost to England. Led by Younis Khan, Pakistan had last won the tournament in 2009.
But his critics—and there are many—argue that the team’s performance declined in the Test format since Azam took over. Now, everyone is looking to him to lead the national team to victory in the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and Asia Cup to be held later this year. Riding his superbike is clearly not allowed.
“No more bikes till the World Cup, please. No risks, skipper,” wrote Farid Khan, COO of CricketR+.
Pakistan had last won the World Cup in 1992, reached the finals in 1999 and lost to India in the semi-final of the tournament in 2011. As for the Asia Cup, Pakistan has won the tournament twice in the past, in 2000 and 2012. It, however, lost to Sri Lanka in the finals last year.
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)