Shaheen Shah Afridi set to lose Pakistan T20I captaincy as PCB offers white-ball role to Babar Azam

Babar, who is yet to accept the offer, has requested the PCB to be named captain in all three formats if he plans a comeback.

Daniel Rasoul

Shaheen Shah Afridi was named T20I captain after Babar Azam left the post across all formats in November AFP/Getty Images

Shaheen Shah AfridiPakistan’s T20I captaincy streak is about to come to an end, with Babar Azam was once again offered the position of white ball captain. PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi met Babar earlier this week to make him an offer.

Babar, for his part, has not yet accepted the offer. The decision to remove the armband from him the three formats following Pakistan’s poor campaign for the 2023 ODI World Cup angered him, and he requested the PCB to be made captain in all three formats if he has to consider a comeback. Although no ODI captain was ever officially appointed when Babar reluctantly resigned, Shan Massoud is the current Test captain, having led the team in a three-match series in Australia.

Things were on the wall for Afridi since Naqvi refused to support him at a press conference in Lahore on Sunday, saying that at that time a final decision would be taken after Pakistan’s military training camp ends. But it seems there was a rapid loss of faith in Afridi’s leadership abilities when he led Pakistan in a series and his PSL franchise Lahore Qalandars. Pakistan lost the T20I series against New Zealand 4-1, and Qalandars won only one match out of ten and finished bottom of the PSL table.

However, Afridi will feel hard done by, given Naqvi’s comments that Pakistan wanted a long-term captain he could support, rather than knee-jerk appointments after a handful of matches, given that is precisely what he arrived. Part of the appeal of appointing Afridi, still only 23, as captain was that he could learn on the job and continue in the role for an extended period, and he was also seen as the favorite to assume leadership of the ODI.

And while Babar’s demand to be named Test captain is not considered a deal-breaker, it does put significant pressure on Masood’s position as red-ball captain. He too only led the team in one series, against Pakistan. lose all three matches in Australia. However, a more aggressive approach as captain was widely seen as a contributing factor to Pakistan bringing the hosts close in two of the three Tests despite injuries weakening the bowling attack.

Shan Masood led Pakistan in just one Test series, in Australia in December-January Cricket Australia/Getty Images

The about-face around the captaincy issue strikes at the heart of the state of the PCC’s work over the past 18 months. They have passed through several chief selectors, as well as selection committees with varying degrees of power, since the start of 2023. Zaka Ashraf’s decision to sack Mickey Arthur and Grant Bradburnand pushed Babar to resign just before a key tour of Australia’s highest profile, but in truth the chaos has been simmering for longer than that.

The current composition of the selection committee is also quite different. There are four selectors – Wahab Riaz, Asad Shafiq, Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf – without a chief selector. They will be joined by Pakistan’s captain and coach – both yet to be named – as well as a data analyst. Selection decisions will be made by vote, with a 4-3 majority winning.

As things stand, Pakistan have held negotiations with several candidates for the head coach position without reaching an agreement. Shane Watson, Mike Hesson and Adam Voges were among those who ultimately declined, while initially promising talks with Luke Ronchi also ended in failure. The PCB is reportedly currently in talks with Jason Gillespie and Gary Kirsten, with no sign of progress yet.

Pakistan’s next series, for which Babar is expected to lead his team once again, is against New Zealand in April, with both teams playing five T20Is.

Danyal Rasool is the Pakistan correspondent for ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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