Masood Backs Babar, Rests Shaheen: Pakistan Plots Sydney Fightback

Can Babar roar back? Pakistan captain Masood defends struggling star & explains surprising Shaheen Afridi exclusion ahead of crucial Sydney Test. Read details & see who replaces him!

Ahead of the pivotal third and final Test against Australia in Sydney, Pakistan captain Shan Masood has thrown his weight behind struggling batsman Babar Azam, calling him the “main player” and predicting a big score for him. Despite a dismal 2023 in Test cricket, where Azam failed to score a single half-century, Masood expressed confidence in his star player’s approach and work ethic.

Babar Azam is our main player. We have no concerns over his performance,” Masood declared during the pre-match press conference. “His approach is positive. He is practicing for hours in the nets and has great fitness. I am looking forward to him scoring big in the Sydney Test.”

However, questions swirled around the surprising omission of star fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, considered the spearhead of Pakistan’s attack. Afridi’s absence, following Masood’s earlier praises, sparked concerns about his diminished pace and the pressure he faced due to the lack of other key bowlers.

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Masood clarified that the decision to rest Afridi was based on his recent heavy workload, with spinner Sajid Khan stepping in as his replacement. The captain emphasized the need to manage Afridi’s workload effectively, citing his immense contribution as the bowler with the most overs in world cricket recently.

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“Shaheen Afridi has bowled most overs in world cricket in recent times,” Masood explained. “He gives his 150% in the training sessions as well. He keeps motivating his teammates. He is our main player. We’ll make sure we look after Shaheen Afridi well.”

With Australia already holding an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series and occupying the No.3 spot in the ICC World Test Championship table, Pakistan faces an uphill battle in Sydney. Masood’s bold backing of Azam and careful management of Afridi hint at Pakistan’s strategy to fight back and salvage some pride in the final Test. Whether it will be enough to upset the Aussies remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the battle lines are drawn for a thrilling encounter in Sydney.