In a significant turn of events, the Pakistan cricket team is likely to get a new vice-captain in the form of left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi who so far has emerged as the front-runner for the key post.
Following the Green Shirts' below-par performances against arch-rivals India and Sri Lanka in the recently concluded Asia Cup 2023, skipper Babar Azam has been under scrutiny for his captaincy during the tournament.
Azam has not only faced criticism for his captaincy during the tournament but his decision to include vice-captain Shadab Khan persistently into the playing XI despite bad form has raised questions over his decision-making.
Vice-captain Shadab Khan is going through a bad patch in both the bowling and batting departments.
Statistics indicate that he took six wickets at an average of 40.83 in five matches during the Asia Cup 2023. Captain Babar Azam has been under scrutiny for persistently selecting Shadab Khan for the team.
In light of this, Pakistan's left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi — who has 255 international wickets to his name and has twice won the coveted Pakistan Super League (PSL) trophy in 2022 and 2023 — is likely to be appointed as the team's vice-captain replacing Shadab Khan.
Shaheen Shah Afridi's leadership qualities have been on display in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), where he led the Lahore Qalandars franchise to consecutive titles in 2022 and 2023.
The left-arm pacer has represented Pakistan in 27 tests, 44 one-day internationals (ODI) and 52 T20Is and has 255 international wickets to his name.
Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee Zaka Ashraf is weighing his options about any possible change in the team's leadership
The final decision over any change in the team's leadership rests with the PCB management committee chairman who is unlikely to replace Babar Azam as the team's captain before the mega event. However, chances are that Shaheen Afridi might likely replace Shadab Khan as Azam's second-in-command.
Earlier it was reported that the team management including chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and skipper Babar Azam are now considering making changes to the 15-member squad for the mega event.
Sources say that in light of the team's recent performance, the chances of Mohammad Haris, Usama Mir, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Faheem Asraf making the World Cup squad look bleak.
Meanwhile, Hassan Ali and right-arm leg-break spinner Abrar Ahmed are likely to be included in the 15-member squad.
Pakistan's prospective 15-member-squad for the World Cup might look like this; Babar Azam (c), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Abdulla Shafiq, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Hassan Ali, Zaman Khan.