Pakistan’s newly reinstated white-ball captain Babar Azam has addressed speculation of a strained relationship with former T20I skipper Shaheen Afridi. The rumors swirled after Azam replaced Afridi following a leadership change within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Afridi’s brief stint as T20I captain under the previous chairman, Zaka Ashraf, ended abruptly with the arrival of Mohsin Naqvi. Azam’s return to leadership, coupled with Afridi’s cryptic social media post hinting at betrayal, fueled media reports of a potential rift.

However, Azam has rubbished these claims. “Our bond goes back a long way,” he asserted. “We support each other in every situation. Our aim is to put Pakistan first.” [Hindustan Times] He emphasized team unity and national pride, dismissing suggestions of individual competition.

Afridi’s leadership tenure coincided with a disappointing run for the Lahore Qalandars in PSL 2024, raising questions about his captaincy skills. This, along with Pakistan’s underwhelming performance in the 2023 World Cup under Azam’s captaincy, likely factored into the PCB’s decision.

Azam’s return reportedly came with conditions, including regaining control of white-ball formats and a guarantee to remain captain until the T20 World Cup later this year. This move resulted in Afridi’s removal as skipper.

While the situation sparked concerns, Azam’s statement appears to be a clear attempt to quell any rumors of animosity. Only time will tell if their on-field chemistry remains unaffected as Pakistan gears up for the upcoming World Cup.

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