One loss can hurt any team at the Cricket World Cup. Imagine, what three straight losses can do! The same this is happening with the Babar Azam-led Pakistan cricket team. Before even recovering from losses against India and Australia, the 1992 World Cup champions were dealt another major blow by Afghanistan. In Chennai on Monday, Afghanistan rode on some confident show by its batters and bowlers to get past a 283-run target set by Pakistan easily.
That crushing loss has put the Babar Azam-led Pakistan on the brink of exit from the World Cup. Former Pakistan players tore into captain Babar Azam and other players for their poor performance in the tournament. Be it Wasim Akram, Misbah ul Haq, Ramiz Raja, Rashid Latif, Muhammad Hafeez, Aaqib Javed, Shoaib Malik, Moin Khan or Shoaib Akhtar, Babar was blamed for the run of Pakistan’s defeats against India, Australia and Afghanistan.
Babar didn’t help his cause either by deciding to give away a bat to Afghanistan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz in Chennai after the eight-wicket defeat.
But the gesture has not gone down well in the cricket circles here, adding to the cries to replace Babar as captain.
Aaqib was quoted as saying by news agency PTI that Shaheen Shah Afridi should be made Pakistan captain in the white ball formats in place of Babar.
“Shaheen is the best bet for the future of Pakistan cricket. Babar has failed to prove himself as an able captain in white ball formats,” the former pacer said.
Aaqib who is the Director and head coach of PSL team Lahore Qalandars for which Shaheen, Haris Rauf, Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique play also criticised all other players except Rauf for not coming to the party against Afghanistan.
Pakistan now have to win all their remaining four games against England, South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh to stand any chance of qualifying for the semifinals.
“The fielding and body language of the players was very poor and unconvincing (against Afghanistan). They just didn’t appear capable of defending 283 which is not a small total. The bowling was ordinary and the fielding levels were pathetic,” Akram said.
Akram also noted that surprisingly no fitness tests had been held for Pakistan players for the last one year.
“In modern day cricket how do you expect to do well if you are not 100 percent fit? How can you take catches or stop boundaries? “The way some of our players fielded it appeared as if they were enjoying a diet of rich dishes and food,” he said.
Misbah said Babar’s captaincy left much to be desired and his bowling changes and field placings were amateurish.
“He has wasted Haris Rauf by bringing him on in the power play when there are only two fielders outside the circle. Haris was hit in his first over (against Australia) and he lost all confidence.
“He should be brought on with at least a sweeper at cover and three other fielders on the leg-side deep,” Misbah said.
Ironically, Misbah and Akram had played a pivotal role in convincing the PCB to make Babar captain of all formats, dumping Sarfaraz Ahmed after the 2019 World Cup.
Former Pakistan all-rounder, Razzaq accused Babar of spoiling the game of other players and noted that against Bangladesh, Shafique was batting aggressively and he changed the game once Babar came into bat.
“When Babar bats slowly it has an adverse effect on other batters who then can’t play their natural game and this is affecting Pakistan’s strike rate in this tournament,” Razzaq said.