On Saturday, controversy hit Pakistan cricket when rumors flew over an alleged dressing room argument involving skipper Babar Azam and pacer Shaheen Afridi after the side was knocked out of the race for the final of the Asia Cup 2023.
Considered to be one of the favorites to win the tournament, co-hosts Pakistan started well, by demolishing Nepal in a Group match and had India in trouble in their second match, which was rained off. However, in the Super 4s stage, the Pakistan team fell apart and could only manage one win, over Bangladesh in Lahore.
When Pakistan faced off against India in Colombo, they were decimated by the Men in Blue as Babar and co lost by 228 runs, their biggest loss to arch-rivals in ODIs. And then in a must-win game against Sri Lanka, poor fielding, captaincy, and other lapses caused them to lose a close encounter which knocked them out of the race for the final.
According to media reports, Babar Azam voiced his discontentment with the performances of certain senior players in the team during a meeting post the loss to Sri Lanka. In response, Shaheen Shah Afridi advised Babar to recognize the contributions of those players who had performed admirably.
The discussion got heated up and led to Mohammad Rizwan intervening and cooling things down.
However, a senior member of Pakistan has now come out to deny the rumors. According to a report, the senior player denied any altercation and insisted that players only shared their thoughts in the meeting.
"The team's sole focus is on cricket, and we are not concerned about the critics. Losing a match allows our critics to voice their opinions, but these are merely negative speculations. In the team meeting, everyone shared their thoughts, but there was no truth to the rumors of a verbal altercation or the coaching staff needing to intervene. Everyone left the meeting together, and many teammates traveled back to Pakistan on the same flight,” the senior player reportedly told Pakistan's leading website Cricket Pakistan.
Pakistan has also been marred by injuries to key players as reports have suggested that Naseem Shah will miss the entire World Cup tournament with a shoulder injury and there are concerns about the side strain suffered by Haris Rauf as well.