Former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria has slammed Babar Azam, calling him “stubborn” for refusing to give up his opening slot for the sake of the team. He also urged him to take a lesson from India talisman Virat Kohli on how to be “selfless”.
Kaneria stated that the Pakistan skipper was too adamant about opening for his national side and that has cost them major silverware.
After reaching the cusp of laying their hands at their second ICC T20 World Cup, Pakistan faltered in the final frontier against England, losing by five wickets. The England batters led by their swashbuckling allrounder Ben Stokes aced a paltry 138-run chase with more than an over to spare.
The chase was set up by the England bowlers, who justified their captain’s decision to bowl first and restricted Pakistan to a below par total.
Similar to the Asia Cup final, Pakistan’s opening pair yet again failed to take up responsibility as Babar and Mohammad Rizwan perished under pressure.
Babar’s slow start in the Powerplay and his 28-ball 32 put additional pressure on the batters to come, resulting in Pakistan failing to find any rhythm and settling for a low score that was chased down by England with Ben Stokes hitting a fighting half century.
Reflecting on the final on his YouTube channel, Kaneria lashed out at Babar and highlighted that the similar cautious approach of the two openers cost them the match and the title.
“Babar Azam has been stubborn about not giving up his opening spot. The same happened when he played for the Karachi Kings too. He is adamant about this because he knows he cannot bat in the middle order. His stubbornness is only going to hurt Pakistani Cricket because of the way he bats,” Kaneria said.
Kaneria also heaped praise on Kohli for his “selflessness” and brilliant performance in the T20 World Cup.
Kaneria said that despite being lambasted for his poor run of form and his captaincy, Kohli came back strong on the big stage, supporting his successor Rohit Sharma and contributing to the team.
“When it comes to being selfless, there is no one like Virat Kohli. The team lost the World Cup under his captaincy, and he was made the scapegoat after that. Many questioned his inclusion in the team. But he refused to give up. He gave his entire support to the new captain and played at the number the team asked him to,” Kaneria added.
Kohli was able to shake off his poor run of form prior to the T20 World Cup and announced himself with a majestic knock of 82 runs against Babar’s men. He continued his rich vein of form throughout the event and finished as the leading run scorer with 296 runs under his belt.