T20 World Cup 2024: Shahid Afridi wants Babar Azam to expel Azam Khan from Pakistan team

Shahid Afridi and Azam Khan

Former Pakistan captain and legendary all-rounder Shahid Afridi questioned Azam Khan’s place in the national team with a bold statement. Azam was picked in Pakistan’s squad for the ongoing four-match T20I series in England as well as the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2024.

Azam doesn’t have great stats in the shortest format of the game, and even his fitness stats are very poor, which baffled Afridi. The former captain said he would never have picked his team’s wicketkeeper-batsman, given his current fitness level.

Afridi further emphasized the importance of physical fitness in the game, citing it as crucial to a player’s overall performance in batting, bowling and fielding. The legendary all-rounder also expressed concern over the impact of Azam’s fitness on his wicket-keeping abilities, particularly in different playing conditions in the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024.

Shahid Afridi criticizes Azam Khan’s selection for the 2024 T20 World Cup

Shahid Afridi highlighted the challenges Azam could face due to his fitness, especially when keeping wickets in the West Indies, where the ball tends to stay low, in the upcoming 20-team ICC tournament.

He noted that Azam’s performance behind the stumps could be affected by these conditions, so he has reservations about playing him at least as a wicketkeeper-batsman for Pakistan in the 2024 T20 World Cup in the United States and the Caribbean.

Shahid Afridi said on Samaa TV: “Fitness is the main thing. If you are fit, your body language gives it away on the ground, whether while batting, bowling or fielding. You can’t compromise your physical condition. I would never let Azam Khan come close to the team as far as fitness is concerned. In England, the ball is carried behind the stumps (while held).

But when they go to the West Indies, the ball won’t come as much, it will stay low. I hope he doesn’t have any problems, but I am worried about him facing the spinners in the West Indies conditions with this physical condition, because the ball stays low there and you have to keep your body down as well.”

Notably, Azam Khan is an aggressive batsman but his fitness has always been a hot topic of discussion ever since he debuted for Pakistan. He has so far played 12 T20Is and has scored in only 88 matches. He had scored 11 runs off 10 balls during Pakistan’s 23-run loss to England in the second T20I.

England and Pakistan will play the third T20I of the series on May 28 in Cardiff, followed by the fourth and final match on May 30 at The Oval, before heading to the USA and the Caribbean for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024. The Men in Green will begin their campaign against the United States on June 6.

Pakistan squad for ICC T20 World Cup 2024:

Babar Azam (c), Saim Ayub, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Azam Khan (wk), Usman Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Abbas Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Abrar Ahmed.