Babar Azam being pushed into ‘pointless controversies’: Ramiz Raja

Ex-PCB chief says Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam were under a lot of pressure for "no reason"

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Former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja (left) and national teams Skipper Babar Azam. — AFP/File
Former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja (left) and national team's Skipper Babar Azam. — AFP/File

Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has said that despite his good performances in white-ball cricket, the national team’s skipper Babar Azam is being pushed into pointless controversies.

Thanks to a half-century each from skipper Babar, Mohammad Rizwan, and Fakhar Zaman, and Naseem Shah's five-for, Pakistan beat New Zealand Monday by six wickets in the opening ODI.

Raja heaped praise on Babar and Rizwan for their performance which helped Pakistan secure a win in the opening ODI to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

“Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam were under a lot of pressure. The pressure was created on Babar’s captaincy for no reason, unfortunately. This is how a team’s atmospheres are spoiled," the former cricketer said on his official YouTube channel Ramiz Speaks.

"He is being asked tough questions and being put into pointless controversies. This team has done well recently in white-ball cricket as they have avoided controversy and been consistent with their combination. He played a very good knock under pressure."

Left-handed batter Shan Masood was appointed Pakistan's ODI skipper for the New Zealand series, replacing Rizwan.

The former commentator also slammed the decision to remove Rizwan from ODI vice-captaincy and said: “Rizwan was under a lot of pressure too. His runs were very really important."

"I don’t understand why he was removed from vice-captaincy. How will this benefit anyone? We know he gives his best for the team. There is no bigger fighter for Pakistan. Use his energy and commitment."

"Such an experience shouldn’t happen, especially in white-ball cricket. He’s been a regular vice-captain and has a great comfort level with Babar. For no reason, that comfort level was removed. I think it’s a really bad decision that puts the team under pressure."

Pakistan have a chance to become the number one ODI team in the world during the series against New Zealand.

If Pakistan whitewash New Zealand 3-0 during the three-match series, they will jump to the number one spot in the rankings with 114 rating points.

The Men in Green are currently in fifth place with 107 rating points. Meanwhile, New Zealand are at the top of the table with 116 rating points.

The Green Shirts will take on the Kiwis in the second ODI at the same venue on Wednesday and later on Friday.