'Azam Khan will take 20 minutes to cover 2 kilometers while the entire Pakistan team…': Hafeez burns under fire from PAK star

Pakistan got their first T20 World Cup 2024 victory on Tuesday, beating Canada by seven wickets in New York. The Babar Azam-led side began their campaign with a shock Super Over defeat against co-hosts USA, followed by a six-run defeat against arch-rivals India.

Pakistan's Azam Khan during a training session. (Surjeet Yadav)

Azam Khan has been criticized for his fitness and form in this tournament, and he has also failed to justify his selection. The wicketkeeper-batsman has also been dropped and is not expected to return to the playing XI in this tournament.

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Speaking to a local news channel, former Pakistan team director Mohammad Hafeez shed further light on Azam's fitness. “The entire Pakistan team can cover two kilometers in 10 minutes while Azam Khan will take 20 minutes to cover the distance. Unfortunately, Azam Khan is not serious when playing international cricket,” he said .

“Being thin or oversized is never a problem for me, but you have to work according to the needs of the game. You have to bring your fitness to the required level. We gave him a fitness plan, but he [Azam] couldn't get any better. You are in the team because of your talent, but you have to respond in case of fitness. You are the only one in the team on whom we have compromised in terms of fitness,” Hafeez further revealed.

Azam made his T20I debut in 2021 and recorded just 88 runs. He was also dismissed for a golden duck on his T20 World Cup debut and faced criticism from former Pakistani players and fans.

Pakistan are third in Group A with two points from three matches, behind second-placed USA (four points). USA's loss to India with 10 balls to spare makes the net run rate equation irrelevant in Group A. Pakistan is ahead of the USA, with a net run rate of +0.191, against +0.127 for co-organizers.

Pakistan can qualify for the Super 8s even if they beat Ireland in a Super Over and Ireland beat the USA. They can also advance to the next stage if they beat Ireland and the United States loses to them, and the margin of victory doesn't matter. Meanwhile, the United States needs at least a point or they need Babar and Co. to lose a point. Pakistan's biggest concern will be the weather at Lauderhill for these crucial encounters. If one of them is eliminated, the United States will reach the Super 8s.

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