Babar Azam speaking to the press during the T20 World Cup

With Pakistan cricket in a difficult phase at the moment, questions have begun to crop up over the suitability of captain Babar Azam and the current team management to pull them out of it. On Tuesday evening, former Pakistan international Ahmed Shahzad went on an extraordinary six minute-long rant about the current state of cricket in the country.  

Appearing on the television program Hasna Mana Hai, alongside other former players Imam-ul-Haq and Imran Nazir, Ahmed Shahzad slammed Pakistan's performance under Babar over the last few years: "We're losing to a lot of mediocre teams. We lost to the Netherlands before the World Cup, to NZ C team, then to USA. The way the team was progressing, this was on the cards.

"The score was 120 yesterday. They keep sending the message that it is a 150 pitch. The person who has been helming the team for four years, doesn't he have this much responsibility to take them to 120, in such an important match against India?"

Shahzad slams Babar's team selection

He went on to criticise the team selection policy, accusing captain Babar Azam of picking the national team based on friendships ahead of performances: "You've kept the entire team based on social media. You've turned the entire public mad. You have handed 40 matches to your friends. Give 40 matches to him (points at Imran Nazir) – he'll even score at this age. You've damaged Pakistan cricket so much.

"The ones performing in domestic are finished at that level itself. They're leaving for USA and UAE. They're saying they didn't get a chance. You have wrecked Pakistan cricket completely."

"You have been building the team for five years, you don't have one middle order batter. You don't have one all-rounder. You just wanted players who, after you play 15 overs, can come in late and hit blindly. Is this how teams are made? No. You have ruined it completely. And now you have kept [social media] agencies to make strategies for you. This is all drama. They are fooling you. The agencies are doing it for sympathy. The public that has elevated you so much, you're fooling them?"

What next for Pakistan?

Babar first took charge of Pakistan's T20I team in November 2019. Since then, he has led in 84 of the 98 matches Pakistan have played, winning 47 and losing 29. He stepped down from the role and was replaced by Shaheen Shah Afridi last November in T20Is, following Pakistan's disappointing ODI World Cup campaign last November. However, Shaheen captained in only one series, in New Zealand that ended in a 4-1 loss, and Babar was reinstated soon after. 

Shahzad's comments came after Pakistan's loss to arch rivals India in the ongoing T20 World Cup. The result put them on the brink of elimination from the tournament. The loss was particularly disappointing given the strong position Pakistan were in halfway through their chase of 120, and the collapse that came after that.

On Tuesday, they bounced back to defeat Canada by seven wickets in New York to keep their campaign alive, but they need to win their final match against Ireland in order to stand any chance of qualifying for the next stage. They are also still dependent on other results to go their way for this to happen.

Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match analysis, player interviews, and much more.