In the wake of Pakistan’s disappointing exit from the Asia Cup 2023, rumours of a rift between Captain Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi began to circulate. However, Babar Azam has now spoken out, shedding light on the situation, and emphasizing the unity within the team as they prepare for the ICC World Cup 2023.

No Top 4! We are coming for No. 1 In Shaa Allah! World Cup humara hay. Look at the confidence from Babar Azam ____#CWC23 #WorldCup2023
— Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) September 26, 2023

Also Read: From Pant To Naseem, Top Injured Players Ruled Out Of Cricket World Cup 2023 – In Pics

The Asia Cup Fallout

Pakistan’s exit from the Asia Cup left fans and pundits in shock. The team, ranked as the number one ODI side in the world, could not match the prowess of Sri Lanka, leading to speculation of unrest within the squad. Reports suggested that Babar Azam had confronted non-performing players in a team meeting, telling them that their star status wouldn’t save them if they continued to underperform.

A Heated Exchange

One of the focal points of this alleged rift was an exchange between Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi. Shaheen Afridi, the talented paceman, questioned Babar’s assessment, urging him to appreciate the efforts of those who had performed well. Babar, in response, defended his stance, asserting his knowledge of player performances. The altercation escalated, requiring the intervention of the team’s support staff and Mohammad Rizwan.

“Respect is given to everyone. You see, whenever the match is close and we lose, it’s just a regular meeting, but sometimes it’s portrayed as if we had a fight. It shouldn’t be like that. Respect should remain constant for everyone. We love each other as much as we do our family,” Babar said in a press conference before leaving for India for the 2023 ODI World Cup.

Babar Azam Sets the Record Straight

At a pre-departure press conference ahead of the ICC World Cup 2023, Babar Azam addressed the rumors, stating unequivocally, “There’s nothing like this. We have the same respect for each other and will remain the same. We love each other like a family.” Babar emphasized that disagreements were part of the game and were often taken out of context.

Naseem Shah’s Absence

Babar Azam also acknowledged the absence of Naseem Shah, who had formed a lethal bowling partnership with Shaheen Afridi. He expressed regret at Naseem’s unavailability for the World Cup due to injury. The team opted for Hasan Ali as his replacement, citing his experience as the deciding factor.

Looking Ahead to the World Cup

Despite the recent controversy and challenges, Babar Azam remains confident about the team’s prospects in the ICC World Cup 2023. He stressed the importance of unity and backing struggling players, showing faith in Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz, who faced criticism during the Asia Cup. Babar Azam’s focus is on the upcoming tournament, where he hopes to lead Pakistan to victory.

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