Pakistan The Accumulation of All Mistakes

Babar Azam stands in stark contrast to the legendary Imran Khan, and the iconic ‘Cornered Tigers’ spirit remains a distant dream within the Pakistan cricket team’s meeting room. As they grapple with their third consecutive loss, Babar is asked about his motivational message.

Pausing to collect his thoughts, he eventually offers a cautious response, “Our message will focus on simplicity and positivity. We’ll analyze our mistakes and how to rectify them in the future, recognizing that each match presents unique challenges. Different opponents require distinct strategies and mindsets. Our goal is to infuse a positive atmosphere within the team.

Perhaps, a more natural and comfortable approach to leadership suits Babar’s style. In contrast to fiery pep talks, he seems to favor practical, on-field assessments. This approach was reminiscent of Imran Khan’s ‘cornered tiger’ strategy in the 1992 World Cup, which Babar might be adopting behind the scenes.

During a crucial phase against Afghanistan, Babar maintained a distant on-field presence as the team discussed strategies. While Afghanistan built a solid partnership and Pakistan’s fortunes waned, Babar stayed primarily at mid-on, occasionally fielding at short fine leg. He appeared focused on ball maintenance and field placement changes, rather than engaging in animated discussions with his teammates.

This led to speculation about Babar’s captaincy style. However, Iftikhar Ahmad defended his captain, emphasizing that bowlers were advising bowlers on the field, leveraging their insights into pitch conditions. Babar’s involvement, although not as visible, remained a part of the team’s leadership dynamic. It’s worth noting that Mohammad Rizwan was also actively engaged in these bowlers’ meetings on the field.

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In team sports, disagreements and internal strife are common during a losing streak. Pakistan’s recent record of just two wins in seven games, against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, is a stark contrast to their former glory as the top-ranked ODI team with a formidable bowling attack. Both the captain and vice-captain are struggling with their form, and rumors of internal divisions further hinder the team’s cohesion.

To address their issues, the team may resort to symbolic acts of unity, such as a paintball photo-op. However, the current problem lies in Babar and Iftikhar not being on the same page regarding the team’s batting and bowling performance in their game against Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s spinners faced criticism for delivering too many loose deliveries compared to their Afghan counterparts. Babar stressed the need for improvement in the batting department, but Iftikhar believed the team fell short in both bowling and fielding.

The pitch assessment also contributed to Pakistan’s challenges. While they aimed for a score of 280-290, they ended up with 282, which was chased down by Afghanistan. The conservative approach stemmed from the previous game, where Australia struggled to score on the same pitch. However, Afghanistan’s strength in spin proved to be Pakistan’s weakness.

Pakistan’s spinners had a poor tournament, with a high average and economy rate. Their inability to break partnerships and control the scoring rate in the middle overs became a recurring issue.

Despite their reputation as the best bowling attack, Pakistan’s bowlers struggled in this tournament. Their pacers, once formidable, faced inconsistency, especially with the new ball. Captain Babar and Iftikhar acknowledged the challenges but emphasized the need for more consistent performance.

The essence of the Pakistan Way, built on a strong bowling unit, has faltered. They must address their bowling woes to regain their former dominance in defending par scores and chasing down targets.

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Mickey Arthur’s theoretical musings cannot obscure the undeniable truth: Pakistan has a distinct way – erratic one day, spectacular the next. Presently, they languish in a lackluster phase, yearning for consistency within the parameters set by Arthur and his coaching team. The vaunted “Pakistan Way” remains elusive, failing to exert a lasting influence on ODIs.

According to head coach Grant Bradburn, the team’s unpredictability stems from on-field inconsistencies. After a masterful display in Chinnaswamy, they fell short at MA Chidambaram. Fielding lapses, overruns, and errant throws marred their performance.

Babar made an honest admission: “We struggle to click. Sometimes we excel in bowling but falter in batting, and vice versa. Our fielding lacks attitude, and we need to be proactive, focused, and fit.” Iftikhar concurred, emphasizing the need to play like a world-class team in all facets.

Despite their challenges, Pakistan ranks fifth on the points table. While Babar maintains a prudent hope for improvement, he acknowledges the unpredictable nature of cricket. Pakistan’s fate remains uncertain, and they continue to strive for better performances in the matches ahead.


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