Azam Khan was bashed for his poor reflexes behind stumps and weight after failure to perform in Afghanistan series
Amid obesity-related severe criticism on social media over Pakistani power hitter Azam Khan's failure to impress in the latest three-match T20I series against Afghanistan, the cricketer's trainer has come out in his support.
Azam — who could score just a single in two matches against the neighbours — suffered severe bashing for his poor reflexes behind the stumps, which also revived the weight and fitness taunts once again.
Fans and also former cricketers questioned the wicketkeeper's fitness.
However, Khan's trainer Shehzar Muhammad, who has trained many of Pakistan's leading cricketers, including Azam and has played first-class cricket himself, termed the criticism on weight "unfair".
"I know an athlete should look like an athlete but Azam falls in a heavyweight category. Unfortunately, there are no divisions in cricket like other sports such as boxing and UFC. His weight helps him generate power," Mohammad said while speaking to GeoSuper.tv.
Scoring a total of 282 runs in 10 PSL 8 matches earned the right-handed batter a comeback call in the national cricket as he was roped in the T20I squad. A couple of unbelievable match-winning knocks in Rawalpindi made Azam a top pick in the franchise tournament but as they say, a single bad performance in Pakistan puts a player under the knife.
Azam, who also dropped a crucial catch behind the stumps during second T20I against Afghanistan, suffered weight-related criticism once again.
Azam has been receiving this criticism since his debut.
Under Shehzar's supervision a couple of years ago, Azam lost over 30kgs. His new look surprised many as it showed the hard work put in by the cricketer.
"You like Azam's sixers, his strike rate and his potential to take over the game within no time. All of that comes from his size and strength.
"I am not saying Azam doesn't need to get fit. If I give you the example of Rizwan and Shan, they are super fit and it helps them remain consistent. In Azam's case, there is a difference as he is heavy weight since childhood," he highlighted.
Shehzar said that Azam can lose weight but it depends on how he is looked after then.
"He can lose power in case of massive weight loss," the trainer maintained.
Shehzar, who played 45 first-class matches, trained many national cricketers including Sarfaraz Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Mohammad Abbas, and Asad Shafiq.
The 31-year-old cricketer-turned-trainer urged people to not judge Azam based on two bad performances.
"Don't judge him on two bad performances. He has best strike rate against top spinners in the world. You need to give him space to succeed. If you can give enough chances to Asif Ali, then why not Azam? He is mature and can win you matches," he concluded.
Azam made his T20I debut back in 2021 against England. He could only play three T20Is then and scored just six runs. So far, the wicket-keeper batter has played five T20Is for Pakistan.
However, in 112 T20 matches, Azam has scored 2245 runs at an average of 24.40 and a strike rate of 142.44.