Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz emerged as the heroes of the match for Afghanistan, with Zadran’s impressive innings of 87 off 113 balls and Gurbaz’s quick knock of 65 off 53 balls. The duo provided a solid foundation for Afghanistan with a 130-run partnership for the opening wicket. Rahmat Shah’s unbeaten 77 off 84 balls and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi’s 48 not out sealed the victory for Afghanistan against a lackluster Pakistan side.
Numerous former cricketers have publicly criticized Babar Azam’s captaincy. Former Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik expressed his disappointment, stating, “He is an excellent batsman, but as a leader…”
Moin Khan, former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman, also voiced his criticism of Babar, pointing out his inability to handle pressure.
“It has been four years since he took on the captaincy, but we have not seen any improvement. He fails to handle pressure when it is needed. He fails to set close-in fielders when wickets are required. These are strategies that need to be implemented. Particularly against Afghanistan, he should have utilized close-in fielders. They had two significant partnerships,” Moin Khan said during a discussion on ‘A Sports’.
Wasim Akram, the legendary bowler, questioned the decision to hand over the 46th over to spinner Usama Mir instead of using the fast bowlers.
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“45 overs were completed. 5 overs were remaining. We had two overs of Shaheen Afridi, 2 overs of Haris Rauf, and one over for Hasan Ali. However, we gave the 46th over to spinner Usama Mir. WHY? These questions need to be asked,” Akram said.
Another concern raised by the former cricketers is the handling of fast bowler Haris Rauf by Babar during the World Cup.
“We can see that Haris lacks confidence when given the ball during power plays. His first over often leaks 18-20 runs. We have discussed in the previous match that if this situation persists, we can follow what New Zealand does. Give the 8th-9th over to (Mitchell) Santner. It becomes an effective attacking option, as the batters see that it is the final overs of the powerplay and they might lose their wickets. It’s better for Haris’ confidence to have four fielders on the boundaries when he bowls bouncers. And if he bowls outside off, he gets a sweeper. This will boost his confidence. Otherwise, if he leaks four boundaries in his first over, then he has a tough time throughout the game,” former captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.
“We are aware that Gurbaz and Zadran play pace well. We could have introduced spin a bit earlier and bowled accurately to restrict them. Haris is losing confidence in every match. We need to change our strategy,” Misbah added.
Malik questioned the decision to not utilize Saud Shakeel, a promising all-rounder who has shown his ability to take crucial wickets in tough situations, as a bowler.
“He (Haris) should be brought in after 10 overs. We know he is a fast bowler and is struggling. But if our spin department is also not performing, then who will do the overs? Shaheen had already bowled four overs. We need to think out of the box. Saud Shakeel is there, why aren’t we using him,” Malik said.
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