Good total, but bowling not upto mark : Babar Azam on Pak loss

Chennai, Oct 24 (UNI) Rueing its stunning loss against Afghanistan, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who anchored the innings well after batting first, said the team had a good total, but the bowling was not up to the mark in its crucial World Cup cricket match against neighbours Afghanistan at the M.A.Chidambaram Stadium here last night.

Babar said not taking wickets in the middle overs led to the team’s defeat, as Afghanistan, without panicking while facing a big target and did not get into any sort of pressure, made a mincemeat of the tall score finishing at 286 for two, winning with a over to spare, in reply to Pakistan’s 282 for seven.

Pakistan suffered its third loss in five matches and it virtually served a wake up call for the team to come up well in the remaining encounters to keep its alive of entering the knock outs.

After the astonishing eight wicket loss, Pakistan remained in the fifth spot and Afghanistan, having defeated defending Champions England earlier, jumped to the sixth spot–though both the teams were equal on four points with two wins each.

Though Pakistan managed to put up a big total, despite a minor wobble in the middle overs, it unexpectedly turned out to be a one horse race–on a difficult wicket–as Afghan reigned supreme in the end dominating right from start to finish.

The better net run rate has placed Pakistan a place higher that its neighbours and the team will face in yet another crucial encounter against South Africa in the same ground on Friday.

Talking about the loss, Babar said “We had a good total, but in bowling, we were not up to the mark because we weren’t taking wickets in the middle overs”

“In a World Cup, if you are not good even in one department, you lose. We started well while bowling, but we couldn’t take wickets.”, he said, while giving full credit to Afghan batters, who chased the big target meticulously.

“All credit to Afghanistan. We are not playing good cricket, [especially] in bowling and fielding. The pitch was helping the spinners even in the second innings. There was no pressure on their batsmen”, he said, after the Afghan spinners applied the brakes in checking the flow of runs in the middle overs, which the Pakistan pacers and the spinners failed to do so.

Meanwhile, victorious Afghan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi, who played the sheet anchor role in the match-winning and decisive unbroken third wicket stand with Rahmat Shah, said “This win tastes nice. The way we chased today was very professional.”

“We have been playing quality cricket from a couple of years. We will try our best to play positive cricket, and do a lot for our country”, he said.

“Today bowling was very good, especially spin bowling. We gave a chance to Noor, and he showed… The game was in our hands from the beginning till the end”, he added.

Afghanistan Coach Jonathan Trott said this win will give batters a sense of self-confidence and was all praise the way his side dominated the game against Pakistan–notching up its first win in eight counters–with the top three batsmen scoring half centuries for the first time in a World Cup and second time in its ODI history.

“Well, yeah, it doesn’t take a lot to see the passion and the rivalry between them. You know, (in) Asia Cup, we had a very disappointing loss last year. And then we had a series against them a couple of months ago, a three-match ODI series, in which a few times we were in the game, and I am just glad today we were in the game again and managed to get across the line,” Trott said on Afghanistan’s historic win.

“Very happy for a few of the batsmen who have, hopefully, will now have that self-belief that we can go on and trust their games and be very confident for the games coming forward”, the former England cricketer said.

“I think for the country, it just shows the amount of talent, and as it was when we were fortunate enough to beat England, it inspires another generation of players to pick up a cricket bat or ball and work on their fielding and fitness,” he added.

Giving full credit to the openers for setting up the historic victory, Trott said, “The turning point for me was the start that Ibrahim and Gurbaz gave us – I think it is always good when you’re chasing a total like that. You need a good start, and there is less pressure on the players coming in.”

“So those two batsmen, I think (were) outstanding. I’m very happy for Ibrahim getting into the tournament now and showing everybody on the world stage what a good player he is”, he noted.

The Afghan coach also praised Rahmat Shah’s unbeaten knock of 77 and how he anchored the chase. “I thought the players in the middle, their emotions were outstanding. I think to have a historic win like this as well for the players, you could easily get ahead of yourself or get a bit nervous or panicky.”

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