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“When I’ll be 36, my stand will be the same” – Imam-ul-Haq defends Babar Azam as captain
By SMCS - Jun 6, 2024 10:20 am
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Pakistan player Imam-ul-Haq recently backed captain Babar Azam and came up with a befitting reply to Ahmed Shehzad amidst the ongoing 2024 T20 World Cup. He said after Shehzad highlighted that Babar has failed to win any ICC events despite getting a longer run. He stated that friendship has been a priority over the nation in Pakistan cricket as well.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam

In his defense, Imam-ul-Haq stated that Pakistan reached the semi-finals and finals of the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cups while supporting that current crop of players and captain Babar.

Imam-ul-Haq told Geo TV: “Babar was removed without his consent and reinstated without his consent as well. The board re-appointed him as captain. In 2021, we reached the semifinals. Later in 2022, we played the final, which means there were performances. We didn’t win, that can be a debate. We didn’t click in the final. You can say Babar likes these lot of players but terming it as friendship is quite personal.”

Shehzad replied, “We understand that Imam is in a central contract, he is young. We spoke the same when were at his age. I’m 34, sick and tired of things. We want things to be better. When you drag players for 4-5 years, you do wrong with those performing in domestic. Someone else takes their rights.”

In response, Imam said: “I am in a central contract. I have been playing for the last 6-7 years but I promise you that when I’ll be 36, my stand will be the same. If someone has a problem, they can speak if they are 28 as well. Why don’t you say that?”

Ahmed Shehzad, meanwhile, criticized Pakistan for allegedly prioritizing friendship over the nation. He further stated that Pakistan are playing the same crop of players for 35-40 games and not preparing backups as well. He said, “Speaking of Babar Azam, there is friendship. Look, he is carrying players from a long run. The players are out of form for a long time. It doesn’t look good. If I count the number of matches, you’ll realize players don’t get that long run. If there was any other captain, he wouldn’t have carried players for 35-40 games. He should have thought about himself.”

Pakistan team
Pakistan team

“I think that because of friendships, they decided that they are the ones [to dictate]. It’s okay but you have to keep the nation first. If you see the combination is not winning matches then change it. If you realize, the strike rate is going higher in modern-day cricket, you have to raise that,” Shehzad continued.

Taking the example of Sarafaraz Ahmed’s 2017 Champions Trophy win, Shehzad also said that Pakistan can shut him down by winning the
ongoing 2024 T20 World Cup as well.

“When C, D, E teams came [in Pakistan], you didn’t give them enough opportunities. So, how you can evolve bench strength? How do you prepare them for the future? You are senior, established players and you keep playing every game. So, when you play against powerful teams, you deliver those performances there as well,” he added.

“We don’t play cricket to win bilateral series but to win ICC events. Did we win any event in the last 4-5 years? If we didn’t win, I would say there are gangs, friendships, and tola with an agent, who has been manipulating cricket for the last 4-5 years. They [Sarfaraz Ahmed and Co.] produced the results, won the Champions Trophy. It justifies, you also win this event and justify. However, you’ve got a longer run, one captain doesn’t get five events. You were removed and then brought back. It’s wrong with Shaheen, you made him captain for two matches and then you removed him,” he again shared.