Babar Azam critical of Pakistan's play in all departments - Cricket News | Cricket Updates | Match Report

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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Babar Azam critical of Pakistan's play in all departments

 Pakistan were favourites to get the job done against the United States but lost the game via a Super Over.

Pakistan were favourites to get the job done against the United States but lost the game via a Super Over. © Getty

Pakistan captain Babar Azam was critical of his team's performance in all three facets of the game following the shock reversal to the USA in Dallas. Finalists two years ago in the previous edition of the T20 World Cup, Pakistan were heavy favourites to get off the mark in Group A ahead of the marquee weekend clash against India but produced an insipid display that began with a shoddy PowerPlay effort after being put in to bat.

Both Mohamamd Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman hit sixes to get off the mark but were dismissed quickly thereafter. Between them Usman Khan was dismissed for another low score. The trouble for Pakistan was that they have among the lowest averaging middle orders in the competition but their captain scoring 4 from 14 balls during the field restrictions didn't help.

From a PowerPlay score of 30/3, Babar and Shadab Khan managed to score 63 in the next six overs. However, just as they were looking to ride the new-found momentum, Pakistan lost wickets of Shadab and Azam Khan off successive Nosthush Kenjige deliveries in the 13th over. And once Babar fell a couple of overs later, Pakistan managed an under-powered 159 on a pitch that was beginning to settle down.

"To be honest, whenever you lose a game, you are always upset. We did not play good in all three departments," Babar said after the defeat. "For six overs, I think we did not capitalise properly, but later on, after the 10th over we got momentum, but again we lost too many wickets and then your momentum is gone. So yeah... I think as a batting unit we need to step it up in the middle and in the end.

"The first six overs, the ball was holding and was swinging. But later on, I didn't feel it was a different wicket. It settled down a bit. Because of the early start - the matches are starting at 10.30 am - the fast bowlers will obviously get a little help. There was some juice in the pitch early morning. So they utilised that and executed their plan. It was difficult in the beginning, but we covered it. I think when we lost the wickets back-to-back, that was the turning point. But as a professional, you have to step up against such a team in the batting... in the middle order. This [contitions] is not an excuse...they played well, [but] I think we played badly," he added.

Babar was left wanting even with the ball, so often Pakistan's stronger suit in these ICC events. In the absence of the injured Imad Wasim, Shadab and Iftikhar Ahmed had to cover up the fifth-bowler's job as a pair. Between them they conceded 37 runs in four overs and couldn't effect any breakthroughs. USA were cruising in their chase of 159 before the fast bowlers hit their yorkers to turn the game around. Two of those attempted yorkers in the final over from Haris Rauf, however, turned into full tosses which were put away for boundaries as USA forced a dramatic

"Even in the second innings, I think we also got help [from the wicket], but we were not up to the mark in terms of our bowling areas. We lacked in that in the first ten overs. We came back after that but they had already taken the momentum. But given the bowlers we have, we should have defended that total. On this pitch, I think it was a defendable total for our bowling.

"We are better than that in the bowling. We did not take wickets in the first six overs. In the middle overs, if your spinner is not taking wickets, then the pressure is on you. After ten overs, we did come back but I think the way they finished game in the Super Over, the credit goes to the US team," Babar added.

Curiously enough, defeats to seemingly unfancied teams on paper haven't been rare for Pakistan. They dropped a game to Zimbabwe in the last T20 World Cup in Australia. More recently, they lost a game to Ireland in a bilateral series before bouncing back to win the final two games. Babar admitted to the possibility of a slightly different mindset, one in which the players can tend to relax.

"See, whenever you come to any tournament, you do the best preparation always," Babar said. "You can say it's a kind of mindset. When you come up against a team like this, you relax a little. If you don't execute your plan against any team, then whatever team it is, they will make you pay. So I believe that our execution was not up to the mark. We were doing well in the preparation but in the match, we did not execute our plans as a team."

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