On the back foot

October 30, 2022

Babar Azam and his boys will have to play brave cricket if they want to achieve something big

Babar Azam
Babar Azam

The T20 World Cup is under progress in Australia, but the persistent rain around the country not only has disturbed the fans but also affected several results.

Pakistan started the campaign by losing to India on the last ball in a controversial manner. Skipper Babar Azam is facing criticism from some former players over his leadership qualities — especially his decision to give the 20th over to Mohammad Nawaz as the bowler failed to defend 16 runs.

The defeat hurt the Pakistani fans, but the loss against Zimbabwe, one of the weakest sides in the group, dented Pakistan’s semi-finals chances.

After the defeat in the opening game, Babar said that his team would learn from the mistakes and come up with better performance in the next games.

In the next game when Zimbabwe shocked the Greenshirts the captain repeated the statement. Somebody should tell him that playing the World Cup demands professionalism.

After selection of the team, experts raised their voice that this team can’t compete in the mega event and the first two matches against India and Zimbabwe proved them right.

Former Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez has said that Babar’s captaincy is like a sacred cow. “It’s the third consecutive big game that we are seeing flaws in Babar’s captaincy, but we keep hearing that by the time he gets to the age of 32 he will learn. From the 7th over till the 11th over, when India were struggling for even 4 runs an over, why did Babar not complete the spin quota?” he asked.

Former captain Salim Malik also feels that Babar should leave captaincy if he repeats the mistakes.

Former wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal revealed that he had in fact told Babar not to consider captaincy as he felt he was too young to take up the role and that it was time for him to concentrate on his batting.

Former Pakistan cricketers Shoaib Akhtar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Salman Butt, Moin Khan and Aaqib Javed have been very vocal about their displeasure with Babar’s captaincy.

Babar replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed as Pakistan captain with the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh in January 2020 being his first time leading the side.

Actually Babar is defensive. He doesn’t take risks. Despite voices from everywhere, he never changes the opening pair and sticks with the same combination.

Other teams are playing with their best hitters on the top slots, but Babar didn’t change the combination even in the 7-match T20I series against England last month.

Despite all criticism, it is the fact that Babar is the most successful T20I captain for Pakistan so far. Till the second game against Zimbabwe, Babar had played 61 T20Is, won 36 and lost 20.

After the loss in the first two matches, it’s clear that Pakistani batsmen can’t play on Australian soil with authority. Babar and Rizwan who provided many century partnerships couldn’t score even 20 runs in the opening partnership in the first two games.

Pakistani batsmen have always found it difficult to tackle short balls. Their repetitive failures against short-pitched deliveries give a strong weapon to their opponents.

Babar before the Asia Cup was confident that the best team had been selected and he said that Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah would perform in the World Cup. But they have failed time and again. Most of the time they threw their wickets when the team expected something big from them.

Asif has played 55 T20Is but has scored no fifty. His strike rate of 133.99 is the only thing that goes in his favour. He averages a pathetic 15.11. In 17 T20Is this year so far, Asif has never scored 30.

The team wants Asif to score a quick-fire 10 ball 30, and for that he needs to play big shots and take risks. He is not capable of smashing a 40 ball hundred in international cricket, unless the opposition is Zimbabwe or Kenya. His best score of 41 against Zimbabwe had come in July 2018.

Young Haider Ali has also failed to deliver although he was given a proper run in Pakistan. He had a promising start in his under-19 career, but now he is not even a shadow of his early age. Haider has scored only 93 runs in 12 matches this year with a high score of 31.

With this batting performance, winning the World Cup just could be a dream.

NOTE: All statistics are updated upto the Pakistan vs Zimbabwe world cup match on Oct 27, 2022.


On the back foot