As controversy surrounding opener Sharjeel Khan’s selection grows, Pakistan team Captain Babar Azam has come out in support of his team mate, saying Sharjeel is in form and will be a winning addition to the Pakistan side.
In a virtual press conference in Lahore ahead of the team’s training camp for the Africa tour, Azam assured that Sharjeel was working on his fitness, adding that the management was also working with him on the issue.
“Sharjeel Khan will work on his fitness. You cannot expect him to become [as fit as] Shadab Khan overnight,” Babar said.
He pointed out that Sharjeel had been playing one-day and four-day games before he was selected and dismissed claims that his fielding was not up to the mark.
"He is a match winner. He is in form and it [his inclusion in the side] will be beneficial for Pakistan,” said Babar.
Babar’s comments come amid reports that Head Coach Misbahul Haq had expressed reservations over the batsman's selection due to his poor fitness.
During the presser, Babar also spoke about reports circulating in the media that he has had disagreements with Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim over certain players' exclusion from the squad for the Africa tour.
“There is talk of differences over selection [of players],” noted the skipper.
However, he clarified that, "There is [always a] discussion on names and it should continue," and described those discussions are "healthy debates".
He also made it clear that he was unhappy with the reports, as he believes that those conversations are supposed to be had within meetings "and should stay within those meetings".
The batsman added that the decisions he takes are for the team and not for individuals.
Speaking about the upcoming tour, Babar labelled the South Africa series as an important one. He added that the team will try to carry forward the winning momentum it gained from the recently-concluded series against South Africa in Pakistan.
The skipper said that the team will play good cricket in South Africa, saying that even though they have defeated the team recently, they will not take the challenge lightly.
On the Zimbabwe tour, Babar said that the Test series against the Chevrons is a good opportunity for young cricketers.
Pakistan is scheduled to play three ODIs and four T20Is against South Africa from April 2 onwards.
The teams will play the ODI series first, while the T20 series will start from April 10.
The tour will end on April 16, after which the Pakistan team will depart for its series against Zimbabwe.