Bad batting let Pakistan down

Bad batting let Pakistan down

babar ent lost d - Bad batting let Pakistan down

For the second time in 10 months at the same venue, the finish line proved just a little beyond the reach of Pakistan.

A fabulous run at the T20 World Cup last October-November ended in a crushing loss to Australia in the semi-final with an inspired Matthew Wade playing the lead role. 

At that tournament, Pakistan had seemed unstoppable, riding on the brilliance of Shaheen Shah Afridi, the opening combine of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, and the late-order pyrotechnics of Asif Ali.

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Babar’s poor run

At the Asia Cup, despite making it to the final, Pakistan weren’t quite the same force. Afridi missed the tournament through injury, Rizwan’s runs came at too slow a pace to make a consistent impact and Asif went AWOL

But the biggest setback was the lack of returns of Babar, the team’s best batsman who sets the tone at the top of the order. Babar didn’t bat badly at all, yet he finished with a top score of 30 and couldn’t muster even 100 runs in six innings. That, combined with the fragility of the middle-order, brain-fades in the field and the propensity to get carried away by pace, all came at a heavy price.

Saqlain Mushtaq, the beleaguered head coach, fended off aggressive questions from the Pakistan media on Sunday night after the 23-run loss in the final, refusing to get involved in a verbal pow-wow, but he will know that there is plenty of work ahead of the team before the World Cup. 

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Pakistan’s greatest high came when they bested India by five wickets in the Super 4 clash between the giants, but apart from decimating Hong Kong, they spluttered and stuttered, their batting coming apart in their last three matches.

Fabulous pacers

Despite losing Afridi and then Shahnawaz Dahani to injury, Pakistan still had a fabulous fast-bowling attack in Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain and Haris Rauf, but with their batsmen badly letting them down, there was only so much they could do. 

Pakistan made a meal of a target of 130 against Afghanistan, squeezing to a one-wicket win, and were shot out for 121 in their last league tie by the Lankans. In the final, they were never in with a chance once Sri Lanka recovered from 58 for five to post 170. 

The only pocket of resistance came when Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmad, slowly, stitched a half-century stand for the third wicket, but when it came to the crunch, Pakistan folded meekly, losing six for 23 in an extraordinary meltdown.

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Fast becoming a dangerous trend, this is something Babar’s men must address immediately if they are to make a statement at the World Cup.