Within the Pakistan cricket team, left-arm pace sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi is emerging as a prominent contender for the vice-captaincy role. This potential leadership shift comes in the wake of Pakistan’s underwhelming performance against India and Sri Lanka during the 2023 Asia Cup, which has raised questions about the leadership of Captain Babar Azam during the tournament.
Criticism has been directed not only at Babar Azam’s captaincy but also at his persistent selection of vice-captain Shadab Khan in the playing XI, despite Khan’s struggles in both bowling and batting. During the Asia Cup 2023, Shadab Khan managed to secure just six wickets at an average of 40.83 in five matches.
In response to these circumstances, Shaheen Afridi, renowned for his left-arm pace and impressive record of 255 international wickets, as well as back-to-back Pakistan Super League (PSL) victories in 2022 and 2023 with Lahore Qalandars, is being considered as a potential replacement for Shadab Khan in the role of vice-captain.
Shaheen Afridi has demonstrated leadership qualities in the PSL and boasts significant international cricket experience, with 27 Test matches, 44 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), and 52 T20Is to his name.
The decision regarding this change in team leadership ultimately rests with Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee, Zaka Ashraf. However, it appears unlikely that Babar Azam will be replaced as the team’s captain before the upcoming major event. Instead, the focus is on Shaheen Afridi potentially assuming the vice-captaincy role in place of Shadab Khan.
Reports suggest that the team management, including chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and skipper Babar Azam, is contemplating adjustments to the 15-member squad for the upcoming major event.
Given the team’s recent performance, it’s less likely that Mohammad Haris, Usama Mir, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, and Faheem Asraf will secure spots in the World Cup squad. Conversely, Hassan Ali and right-arm leg-break spinner Abrar Ahmed are expected to be included in the 15-member squad.
The potential 15-member squad for the World Cup may include Babar Azam (c), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Abdulla Shafiq, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Hassan Ali, and Zaman Khan.