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Babar Azam backs Pakistan batting plan, lays blame for loss on bowlers and fielding

Babar Azam has defended his team’s batting approach after Monday’s defeat to Afghanistan at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, saying that the loss was down to poor execution with the ball and in the field.

But, after a strong start against pace from Afghanistan’s opening pair, the middle overs did not go to plan for a Pakistan side that looked devoid of ideas at times.

Even after Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali had removed the two openers to give their team hope, the momentum stayed with Afghanistan as they chased down their target with an over to spare.

And Pakistan’s captain is clear where he believes the game was lost.

“This loss was very hard as a team. The batting and our plan was to total 280-290, and when we achieved that, I think we were not up to the mark in bowling and fielding,” Babar Azam said.

“You have to bowl well and field well. In the middle overs, the spinners didn’t bowl as they should have. They didn’t put pressure on them. When you bowl well, and you bowl for 3-4 overs, the pressure comes on the other team.

“I congratulate their team for the way they played. They played outstandingly.”

Pakistan followed their batting template of setting a platform through the top four and then accelerating in the death overs.

Babar top-scored with 74 from 92 balls and Abdullah Shafique hit 58 from 75 balls to set the foundations, with Iftikhar Ahmed slamming 40 from 27 to boost the total at the close.

And Babar says that the batters did what they set out to achieve, only ending ten or so runs short.

“I think yes (the target was sufficient), we were maybe 10-15 runs short.

“Against quality spinners, one of the best quality spinners they have, we just tried to play normal cricket until 40 overs and then we had a charge in the last 10 overs. We will do that in the last 10 overs.”

And the Pakistan captain said the game started to unravel in his view when Pakistan’s spinners were unable to exert the same sort of control through the middle overs that Afghanistan’s had.

“Look, when we came here, I saw that the margin of error is very low for bowlers. If you bowl a little bit away from the wicket, you will get hit on that ball. So, we are lacking there a little bit. We are not able to bowl within the stumps.

“And for the spinner, we bowl four good balls and then two balls that we get boundaries or some runs.

“If you bowl consistently at one place, then there will be pressure. So that thing is on one side, and on both sides that thing is missing.”

Pakistan’s spinners did struggle to restrict the flow of runs after Afghanistan’s openers had blitzed pace in the powerplay.

Shadab Khan (0/49 from eight overs), Usama Mir (0/55 from eight) and Iftikhar Ahmed (0/27 from five) all went wicketless.

Given the lack of impact of the spinners, it was interesting that strike bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi was held back to complete his allocation in the death overs.

Afridi came on with three of his overs remaining when the pressure had largely lifted, with Afghanistan requiring 35 from 36 balls, with two set batters at the crease and eight wickets in hand.

And Babar said that his side are missing the impact of Naseem Shah to allow him more flexibility with his bowling attack.

“We are missing Naseem a lot. But apart from that, our bowling lineup is one of the best, I (just) think we are not able to click.

“Sometimes we do well in bowling, we don’t do well in batting. When we do well in batting, we don’t do it in fielding.”

And the Pakistan captain also turned his ire towards his team’s fielding efforts, which contributed towards Afghanistan reaching their target with an over to spare.

“In fielding, whenever you do fielding, it is only with attitude. And I don’t see any attitude from the team. You need to put in extra effort and be fit.

“You should focus on the ball, not on other thoughts and when the ball comes, as a fielder you have to be proactive so I think we are lagging a little bit as a fielding unit.”

Pakistan’s third loss of the tournament leaves them needing a very strong finish to their campaign to secure a place in the knockout stages.

But the skipper still holds out some hope.

“It’s cricket. Anything can happen. We will try to play our best cricket till the end. There are a lot of matches left, we will try to win all the matches. We will try to overcome our mistakes.

“I hope we learn from this loss. It will hurt us a lot. We will try to talk about positive things. But we will also talk about the things we did not do well. How we will do it in the future. Because every match is with a different team.

“We will have to go with a different planning. We will have to go with a different plan and a different mindset so we will try to bring a positive vibe in the team.”

Pakistan will need to find those positive vibes quickly, with a daunting meeting against big-hitting South Africa coming up next, once again in Chennai.

 

Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Deskhttps://www.indianabroad.news
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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