Pakistan’s cricketing campaign in the Asia Cup 2023 came to an abrupt halt as the team faced significant criticism after being knocked out in the Super 4 stage earlier this week. The disappointment was compounded by a thrashing from arch-rivals India, followed by a defeat against Sri Lanka, exposing several frailties in the team’s approach. This stumble has raised questions and concerns within the cricketing community as Pakistan looks ahead to the ICC World Cup 2023.
Criticism Aimed at Captain Babar Azam
The Pakistan cricket team started the second round of the Asia Cup with a promising victory over Bangladesh, showcasing their potential. However, the momentum was short-lived, and a 228-run defeat to India dealt a heavy blow to their campaign. A rain-affected must-win match against Sri Lanka saw a valiant effort in the final overs, but Sri Lanka emerged victorious on the last ball of the run chase.
Captaincy decisions, made by Babar Azam, have come under intense scrutiny. Babar’s choices during crucial encounters, including persisting with Shadab Khan despite poor performances and not capitalizing on advantageous positions against India, have raised eyebrows. The resistance towards utilizing backup players in the playing XI has also been noted, with Younis Khan emphasizing the need to address these concerns and not simply stick to a rigid pattern.
Younis Khan’s Observations Addressing the Issue
In addition to the team’s performance woes, injury setbacks have further exacerbated concerns for Pakistan. Fast bowler Naseem Shah, a key asset, may miss the highly anticipated 2023 World Cup due to a shoulder injury sustained during the Super 4 game. This adds to Pakistan’s existing injury concerns with Haris Rauf also under the injury scanner, leaving the team facing a challenging situation as they prepare for the marquee global tournament in India.
Former Pakistan captain and batting legend, Younis Khan, has provided valuable insight into the team’s culture and decision-making process. Khan highlighted a prevalent pattern within the team where there is a reluctance to use backup players, even in matches against less formidable opponents like Namibia.
“Even if we were facing Namibia, we were more focused on keeping the winning combination. In our culture, we think, ‘if Sarfaraz is the wicketkeeper, Rizwan shouldn’t be there because it will create pressure on Sarfaraz, and vice-versa’. Similarly, say, if Babar Azam is the captain of the team, Younis Khan — being the batter of similar stature — can’t be vice-captain because it would put Babar in pressure,” Younis said on ARY News.
He further noted that captaincy, while important, should not be viewed as an insurmountable challenge. Khan urged players to do their homework, adapt to different situations, and not adhere rigidly to one pattern of play, especially in the modern era where opposition batters have well-thought-out strategies.
Captaincy isn’t a very big deal actually. If your bowler isn’t performing well in a particular situation, you should know how to utilise him. You can’t follow a certain pattern everywhere in this day and age. Batters now have a plan. Even now, nothing has gone wrong. Address the grey areas. Don’t back someone just because he is a fan favourite,” said Younis further.
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