The T20 World Cup debacle

June 23, 2024

Nobody had expected much from Pakistan but to lose against the USA was something nobody could have ever imagined

The T20 World Cup debacle

Pakistan have been eliminated from the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024 -- the first time we failed at the group stage of this event.

Pakistan have played the T20 World Cup semi-final six times — 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2021 and 2022 — the most by any team.

Some reasons for defeat in the mega event were the low strike rate, game awareness and batting without sense in the critical situation.

It was a shameful show from the Greenshirts. Having seen the performances in the series against inexperienced New Zealand, Ireland and England nobody had expected much from Pakistan but to lose against the USA was something nobody could have thought of.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has come under fire following the T20 World Cup disaster. Even Babar's place in the team has been questioned. The star batter has been accused of influencing the selection process by favouring a few players.

Shahid Afridi, a legend of Pakistani cricket and former captain himself, has sparked a fresh debate about Babar Azam's leadership. Afridi has suggested that Azam might consider relinquishing the captaincy.

Afridi emphasised that Azam has had a long run as captain, having led the team in multiple World Cups. "Babar has been fortunate to captain in so many World Cups," Afridi said in a conversation with a TV channel. "Perhaps it's time for him to focus solely on his batting, which is his true strength. The team might benefit from a captain with a more aggressive approach in T20 cricket."

It was a complete failure. Neither the top order nor the middle order performed up to the expectations.

Despite his exceptional individual performances Babar has yet to lead Pakistan to a major tournament victory. Several factors contribute to this, ranging from team dynamics and management issues to external pressures and strategic missteps.

One of the primary reasons for Babar Azam's lack of tournament success is the inconsistent performance of the team. Pakistani cricket has long been associated with unpredictability. The team's performance often oscillates between brilliance and mediocrity. While individual players like Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi, and Mohammad Rizwan have shown consistency, the team as a whole has struggled to maintain a steady level of performance. This inconsistency makes it difficult to build momentum in tournaments, where consistent performance is crucial.

While Babar Azam is undoubtedly a world-class batsman, captaincy requires a different set of skills and support from experienced players.

Babar said the team’s batting let them down. He apologised to fans for failing to reach the Super Eight stage.

Captaincy in cricket is not just about leading on the field; it involves making critical decisions under pressure. Babar Azam is still honing his tactical acumen. Field placements, bowling changes, and batting orders have often been questioned by analysts and fans. Developing a sharp cricketing mind for captaincy takes time. Babar has taken quite a lot of time but hasn't become a successful captain.

Managing a team in transition is particularly challenging, as it involves balancing the integration of new players while maintaining performance standards. Babar Azam has had to manage this delicate balance.

Cricket in Pakistan is more than just a sport; it's a source of national pride and identity. This immense pressure can be overwhelming for any captain. Babar Azam, despite his calm demeanor, faces tremendous expectations from fans, media, and cricketing authorities.

The scrutiny can be intense, with every decision analysed. This external pressure can affect decision-making and team morale, especially in crucial moments during tournaments.

Team management and selection policies have also played a role in Pakistan's performance under Babar Azam's captaincy. The frequent changes in coaching staff, selection committees, and team compositions have created an environment of instability. Such disruptions can hinder the development of a stable and cohesive team unit, which is essential for winning major tournaments.

International cricket is highly competitive, with teams like India, Australia, England, and New Zealand setting high standards. Competing against such formidable opponents requires not just talent but also exceptional planning, and execution. While Babar Azam has been able to inspire his team to significant wins, consistently overcoming top-tier teams in the pressure cooker environment of a major tournament remains a daunting challenge.

Former players of Pakistan say he shies away from taking risks. He doesn't think anything new and captains very defensively. When the other team charges, he doesn't have any plan B.

Babar Azam's journey as a captain is still in its formative stages. The challenges he faces are multifaceted, involving team performance, strategic acumen, external pressures, and management issues. While he has not yet won a major tournament, it's important to recognise the potential for growth and improvement.

After Pakistan’s win against Ireland, Babar was asked whether he would step down as captain. The top-order batter said it was for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to decide.

"When I gave up the captaincy in 2023, I thought that I shouldn't be doing it now, but was reinstated as white-ball skipper ahead of the 20-overs showpiece in the US and the West Indies. That's why I left it and I announced it myself," Babar said.

"Then when they gave it back to me, it was the PCB's decision. When I go back, we will discuss all that has happened here. And if I have to leave the captaincy, I will announce it openly. I will not hide behind anything.”

Babar had stepped down as captain of all three formats after Pakistan failed to make the knockout stage of the 50-over World Cup in India last year.

The T20 World Cup debacle