Babar Azam is a young man on a steep learning curve and someone, who needs to be hand held in this tumultuous journey called international cricket, feels Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur after his team failed to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals.
Pakistan's No 1 batter Babar failed to score even a single century in the global showpiece and his captaincy came under the radar with team losing five of its nine league games, playing brand of cricket which former skipper Ramiz Raja termed "very 80s".
"We were a real tight knit unit. I get behind Babar. Babar is very, very close to me. He's a young guy that needs to be taken on the journey with. He needs to be shown the ropes," Arthur said after Pakistan ended their campaign with a 93-run defeat, their fifth in nine matches.
"He's growing and we have to allow him the time to grow" - Mickey Arthur
The criticism primarily centered around his lack of aggression and his decision-making abilities on the field as many former Pakistan cricketers suggested that his captaincy is weighing on him.
"He's still learning all the time. We know he's a very, very fine batsman. He learns every day with his captaincy. He's growing and we have to allow him the time to grow. And in order to do that, you (have to allow him to) make mistakes," Arthur said.
"It's not a crime to make mistakes as long as you learn from those mistakes and as a group, we've made a lot of mistakes this World Cup but if this group grows and learns from it, we've got the core of a very, very good side," he said.
He further stressed on the need to shut the outside noise and look forward with focus on creating a stable environment.
"There's always outside noise, whatever World Cup you are at there's outside noise. The key for us as leaders within that group is to make sure that we make the players deaf to that outside noise.
"As I say, for us as a group and us as a team, particularly for us as leaders, we've got to create a stable environment," he said.
Shah suffered a shoulder injury during Pakistan's second game against India in the Asia Cup in September as he was later ruled out of the World Cup.
Mickey Arthur laments Naseem Shah's absence:
In his absence, Pakistan pace bowling attack in Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf lost their sheen.
"Our bowling equilibrium was out of kilter because Naseem Shah provides the consistency, whereas it allows Shaheen Shah to attack, and then you can attack with your leg spinner and you attack with Harris Rauf. So, the equilibrium was upset but that is no excuse at all because quite frankly we haven't played well enough. We haven't bowled well enough at times."
"We haven't batted well enough at times. We haven't been as consistent as we have to be in order for us to progress to a semi-final and a final. And that is the fact of it. I don't think we played our best game here. I think I really believe the best four teams in the competition are now playing the semifinal. I think what we've seen is that, and it's something that we've continually tried to push is that we're behind the eight ball."
With the 93-run win, England have qualified for the 2025 Champions Trophy.