Pakistan cricket team's hard-hitter Azam Khan remained talk of the town after the latter failed to continue his Pakistan Super League (PSL) season 8 form during T20I series against Afghanistan.
Azam, who scored just a run in two matches against Afghanistan, suffered massive criticism for his poor reflexes behind the stumps which overshadowed what he did for Islamabad United during PSL 8.
The right-handed batter got comeback call in the national T20I squad after he notched 282 runs in 10 PSL 8 matches. A couple of unbelievable match-winning knocks in Rawalpindi made Azam a top pick in the franchise tournament but as they say, a single bad performance in Pakistan puts a player under the knife.
Azam, who also dropped a crucial catch behind the stumps during second T20I against Afghanistan, suffered weight-related criticism once again.
Fans and also former cricketers questioned wicket-keeper's fitness. Azam, who hardly proved himself amid weight and fitness taunts, once again meets the same old debate.
Meanwhile, GeoSuper.tv talked to Azam's trainer Shehzar Mohammad regarding this long-lasting debate.
"It's an unfair criticism on him," said Shehzar who himself is an active first-class cricketer and belongs to the great Mohammad family of Pakistan cricket.
"I know an athlete should look like an athlete but Azam falls in a heavyweight category. Unfortunately there are no divisions in cricket like other sports such as boxing and UFC. His weight helps him generate power," he supported Azam.
Under Shehzar's supervision a couple of years ago, Azam lost over 30kgs. His new look surprised many as it showed the hard work put in by the cricketer.
"You like Azam's sixers, his strike rate and his potential to take over the game within no time. All of that comes from his size and strength,
"I am not saying Azam doesn't need to get fit. If I give you the example of Rizwan and Shan, they are super fit and it helps them remain consistent. In Azam's case, there is a difference as he is heavy weight since childhood," he highlighted.
"Azam can lose weight but it depends on how he is looked after then. He can lose power in case of massive weight loss," he maintained.
Shehzar, who played 45 first-class matches, trained many national cricketers including Sarfaraz Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Mohammad Abbas, and Asad Shafiq.
The 31-year-old cricketer-turned-trainer urged people to not judge Azam on the basis of two bad performances. "Don't judge him on two bad performances. He has best strike rate against top spinners in the world. You need to give him space to succeed. If you can give enough chances to Asif Ali, then why not Azam? He is mature and can win you matches," he concluded.
Azam made his T20I debut back in 2021 against England. He could only play three T20Is then and scored just six runs. So far, the wicket-keeper batter has played five T20Is for Pakistan.
However, in 112 T20 matches, Azam has scored 2245 runs at an average of 24.40 and strike rate of 142.44.