Malik and Yousuf in war of words over Babar’s captaincy

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Pakistan faced a crushing defeat at the hands of India by seven wickets in the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023 in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

This defeat prompted former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik to criticize the current captain, Babar Azam, regarding his leadership abilities.

While talking on a local sports channel, Malik questioned Babar’s capacity to think creatively as a captain. He suggested that quitting the captaincy might help Babar focus on his batting and contribute more effectively to the team.

“I gave an opinion in the past as well that Babar Azam should leave captaincy. This is my personal opinion. Babar does not think out of the box as a captain. He is doing captaincy, but the improvement is not coming. He can do wonders for Pakistan as a player,” Malik said.

However, Malik’s comments were met with strong opposition from Pakistan cricket great Mohammad Yousuf, who believed that such comments were ill-timed, especially given the team’s existing pressure during a World Cup. He emphasized that sticking with Babar as captain was crucial, drawing a parallel to the successful leadership of former captain Imran Khan.

“During the World Cup, I don’t think anybody should talk about this. Secondly, Imran Khan captained in 1983 and 1987 and lost both times before winning on his third attempt in 1992. Any good player should be allowed to continue as a captain for a long time. He is the captain because he has the ability. He did not become the captain because he is related to the PCB chairman. He is a genuine skipper,” Yousuf said.

The 49-year-old not only rebuked Malik but also took issue with legendary cricketer Wasim Akram, who was part of the discussion panel.

“So talking about him in this manner is a loss for Pakistan and for him as well, especially amid the immense pressure post that loss against India. I am shocked that Wasim Akram, who was sitting there, did not stop him either,” he further said.

Responding to Yousuf’s criticism, Malik acknowledged the respect he holds for Yousuf as a fellow sportsman. However, he firmly stood by his right to express his opinions when asked a question.  Malik also extended an expression of love towards Yousuf.

“I have had a great time with Yousuf bhai. I really respect him. However, it was my point of view, it is my right that if somebody asks me a question, I’ll definitely respond to it. If you understood the question and understood my answer, there would be no need to talk on a channel. Other than that, Yousuf bhai, I love you,” Malik concluded.

 

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