Sydney, Jan 2: Pakistan red-ball skipper Shan Masood has come to the defense of the out-of-form batter Babar Azam ahead of the third and final Test against Australia, saying that the 29-year-old is the main player and will have a significant impact in the Sydney Test.
In 2023, Babar Azam struggled significantly in Test cricket, failing to register a single half-century. Following the aftermath of the 2023 World Cup, he was subsequently removed from the position of Test captain.
"Babar Azam is our main player. We have no concerns over his performance. 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," said Masood during the pre-match press conference.
The surprise omission of Shaheen Shah Afridi touted as the leader of Pakistan's bowling attack, sent ripples through the cricketing community. Despite Captain Shan Masood's earlier praises, concerns about Afridi's diminished pace and the burden he carried in the absence of key bowlers unfolded as the reasoning behind the unexpected decision.
Pace sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi has been rested for SCG Test, with spinner Sajid Khan stepping in to fill his role. Masood said that the decision to rest the left-arm pacer was based on his recent heavy workload, and the management aims to monitor and manage it effectively.
"Shaheen Afridi has bowled most overs in world cricket in recent times. 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 really well,” said Masood.
The third Test will be played in Sydney from January 3 to 7. Australia have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series and are currently No.3 on the ICC World Test Championship table. (IANS)