Babar Azam is currently struggling with a lean patch. After a rather quiet ODI Cricket World Cup 2023, where he could not leave a big mark, Babar Azam resigned from the captaincy of the Pakistan cricket team. Shan Massod took over the Test captaincy while Shaheen Afridi took over the T20I captaincy. After the Cricket World Cup, Pakistan’s first assignment was a three-Test series against Australia which it lost 3-0. Babar Azam did not have a good Tour in Australia too as he could go past the 40-mark only once in six innings.

The Pakistan cricket team will next face New Zealand in a T20I series. The preparation for it has already begun. In a video which has gone viral on social media, it can be seen that Babar Azam is having a go at the nets. One of his powerful shots even hit Pakistan bowling coach Saeed Ajmal.

Batter Mohammad Rizwan has been appointed as Pakistan’s T20I vice-captain, joining the leadership group under captain Shaheen Shah Afridi, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Monday.

“Rizwan’s first assignment as deputy to Shaheen Shah Afridi will be the five-match T20I series against New Zealand, scheduled to take place in New Zealand from 12 January,” PCB said in an official statement.

Babar Azam announced his decision to step down as Pakistan captain from all formats of the game after his side’s debacle in the ICC World Cup 2023 in India last year. Later, PCB announced that Afridi would take over as T20I captain after Babar’s decision to step down.

The 31-year-old Rizwan has featured in 85 T20Is, amassing 2,797 runs, including one century and 25 half-centuries. Behind the stumps, Rizwan has taken 41 catches and 11 stumpings.

Reacting to the appointment, The 31-year-old stated that he is looking forward to working with the coaching staff and new captain during the series.

“It is an honour to be named as the vice-captain of Pakistan Men’s T20I side. I am thankful to the PCB for entrusting me with this responsibility. I am looking forward to working closely with the captain, coaching staff, and my teammates to contribute to the team’s success,” Mohammad Rizwan was quoted as saying by PCB.

Afridi will lead a 17-player squad against New Zealand in the T20I bilateral series.

Full squad: Shaheen Shah Afridi (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain and wicket-keeper), Aamir Jamal, Abbas Afridi, Azam Khan (wicket-keeper), Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haseebullah (wicket-keeper), Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sahibzada Farhan, Saim Ayub, Usama Mir and Zaman Khan.

With ANI inputs

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