According to widespread reports, Babar Azam, the star Pakistani batsman, is poised to reclaim the captaincy mantle in the T20I format. This news comes after he stepped down from all leadership roles following Pakistan’s disappointing World Cup 2023 campaign in India.

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) recent choices have fueled speculation. With no immediate ODI fixtures, the board opted not to appoint an ODI captain. However, Shaheen Shah Afridi’s tenure as T20I captain proved unsuccessful, culminating in a 4-1 series defeat against New Zealand. His performance as captain of the Lahore Qalandars in the recently concluded PSL 2024, where they won only one match, further intensified the scrutiny.

This string of setbacks has prompted the PCB to prioritize experience in the lead-up to the crucial T20 World Cup 2024. Azam’s return is perceived as a safer bet compared to potentially jeopardizing the World Cup with a new captain.

Shaheen Afridi’s removal as T20I captain has elicited mixed reactions. While some believe he deserved more time to prove himself, others argue the appointment itself was a misstep given the World Cup on the horizon.

Although an official announcement is pending, various sources report that Azam’s captaincy for the upcoming five-match T20I series against New Zealand is a foregone conclusion. However, it remains unclear if he will also lead the ODI team. No discussions are reported regarding Shan Masood, whose Test captaincy began with a disheartening series whitewash against Australia.

PCB Chairman Mohsin Naqvi recently hinted at a decision on the T20I captaincy after the Pakistan team’s training camp in Kakul. He declined to comment on Shaheen’s future, but stressed a decision would be made.

Geo Super, a prominent media outlet, presents strong evidence for Azam’s imminent return. Reports suggest that Naqvi met with Azam to discuss the captaincy, and Azam reportedly expressed some conditions before accepting the role. His concerns stem from his perceived forced resignation during the previous PCB regime under Zaka Ashraf.

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