Former Pakistan cricket director Mohammad Hafeez has shed light on the decision to drop wicket-keeper Azam Khan after the first three matches of the T20I series against New Zealand.

Azam Khan, known for his explosive batting, returned to the national team during the recent five-match T20I series against New Zealand, which Pakistan unfortunately lost 4-1.

Despite his potential, Azam struggled to leave a mark in the first three T20Is, managing modest scores of 10, 2, and 10 respectively. His exclusion from the last two matches sparked criticism, with many calling for a fairer opportunity for the young batter.

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Speaking to a local sports channel, Mohammad Hafeez elaborated on the rationale behind Azam’s exclusion after three games.

“Unfortunately, Azam Khan has yet to replicate his franchise performances at the international level. He averages around 5 after playing seven games,” remarked Hafeez.

“We understand that the transition to international cricket can be challenging for some players, which is why we initially planned to give him an extended run till the T20 World Cup. However, after three consecutive failures, we decided to withdraw him from the next two matches to prevent further damage to his confidence,” he explained.

Hafeez emphasized the intense pressure players face, particularly with the scrutiny of social media, and expressed a desire to shield Azam from excessive criticism.

“Knowing the immense pressure players endure, especially from social media, we wanted to protect Azam from potential backlash. Our decision was made in his best interest, allowing him the opportunity to regroup and return stronger,” Hafeez added.

Meanwhile, Azam Khan had previously voiced concerns about inconsistent selection policies, emphasizing the need for clarity from selectors regarding his role in the team.

Hafeez’s comments indicate that Azam was in the long-term plans, however, with the ouster of Hafeez, time will tell if the new management will show same confidence in the explosive batter.

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