Shaheen Afridi, one of the premier fast bowlers in world cricket, has shared a candid picture of himself playing chess with his teammate Babar Azam, the captain of Pakistan, on September 19, Tuesday, amidst speculation of a rift between the two cricketers. The rumours began after the shock exit of the Men in Green from the Asia Cup 2023, where they finished in last place in the Super Four stage, without reaching the final of the continental cricketing spectacle.
Before the 19th edition of the Asia Cup began last month, Pakistan looked like a settled side, which was expected to go all the way in the tournament as per many experts. But they had a tough tournament, winning only two matches against Nepal and Bangladesh, while losing to the much-fancied sides in India and Sri Lanka.
Shortly afterward, a report from BOL News claimed that Babar Azam lost his cool during the post-match chat with his Pakistan teammates, after their heartbreaking loss against Sri Lanka on the last ball of the match, on September 14. He was allegedly quoted as saying, “If you continue this way, you will be forgotten soon. World Cup is your last chance.”
It led to Shaheen Afridi telling his captain, “At least appreciate those who bowled and batted well.” The response didn’t go well with Babar Azam, who remarked, “I know who is performing well and who is not.”
Now, just a few days later, Shaheen Afridi took to his official Twitter account, sharing a picture of himself playing chess with Babar Azam, presumably to quieten down the rift speculation. He captioned the tweet, “Family,” with a red heart emoji.
The next assignment for Pakistan in international cricket will be in India, when they will travel to their neighbouring country to take part in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. The Men in Green will open their campaign on October 6 against the Netherlands at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.