Pakistan team suffered a massive blow on Thursday (October 27) when they were beaten by 1 run by Zimbabwe. Craig Ervine's side got the better of Babar Azam's men by putting up a strong all-round team effort. Zimbabwe were defending a modest total of 130 runs and they restricted Pakistan on 129-8, thanks to Sikander Raza's 3 for 25.
Pakistan started the tournament with one of the best bowling lineups with nearly five premium pacers: Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim and Mohammad Hasnain. But a sloppy fielding and poor batting has badly hurt them. Bowlers did a good job with Mohammad Wasim raking his career best of 4 for 24 against Zimbabwe. Even Shadab Khan bowled well and ended up with the figure of 3 for 23 in his spell.
So what went wrong for Pakistan?
1. Openers not scoring runs: One of the biggest strengths of Pakistan team was the opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Both are world class batters with their T20I strike rates 122.3 and 120.6. Babar Azam's T20I average is 41.8 while Mohammad Rizwan's T20I average is 51. Rizwan is also the no.1 T20I batter in ICC rankings.
Still, the pair failed to score runs for the team leaving the burden on the middle order. Babar didn't do well in the seven-match T20I series held in Pakistan. The pair which had a great run in T20I cricket has suddenly stopped scoring runs when it mattered the most and this is a big worry for the Pakistan management.
2. Middle order problem: To resolve the middle order crisis, selectors brought in Haider Ali and Shan Masood in the team. Fakhar Zaman and Hasan Ali were benched. Shan Masood, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali and Mohammad Nawaz were required by the team to handle the middle order pressure and put runs on the board. But apart from Shan, rest of the batters have so far failed to impress. Iftikhar played well against India but against Zimbabwe he too went to pavilion after scoring 4 runs.
Look at this. Pakistan were 88/3 when they were chasing 130. But they ended up with 129-8. Within 6 overs, Pakistan lost 5 wickets. This is something which the team suffered against India too when the openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam were out within 15 runs and rest of the batting line-up except Iftikhar Ahmed and Shan Masood failed with the bat. The Pakistan team management will have to do a lot of work to strengthen the batting line-up.
3. Babar Azam's captaincy: If we look at captaincy record of Babar Azam, it is fine. The 28-year-old has captained Pakistan in 61 T20Is. Out of these, Pakistan has won 36 games and lost 20. So, it would be safe to say that he has a decent T20I record.
But his captaincy has also been criticised in the World Cup by former cricketers. Mohammad Hafeez, former Pakistani cricketer called out Babar Azam over his captaincy decisions. Hafeez had criticised Babar for giving Mohammad Nawaz the 20th over in the match against India where Nawaz bowled a wide, a no ball and conceded 16 runs.
Babar, who had played three pacers in place of four, had to suffdr in the absence of additional fast bowler, which could have been Mohammad Wasim or Mohammad Hasnain. Instead, he got Mohammad Nawaz, who neither scored with the bat and nor with the ball.
What former cricketers said:
Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar called it a big embarrassment after losing to Zimbabwe. In a Twitter video, Akhtar said, "Very very embarrassing. Keep selecting average people and you'll get average results."
Thats embarrassing, to be most polite!— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) October 27, 2022
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir called for the ouster of PCB chairman and chief selector.
from day one I said poor selection ub is cheez ki responsibility kon le ga I think it's time to get rid of so called chairman jo pcb ka khuda bana hwa hai and so called chief selector.— Mohammad Amir (@iamamirofficial) October 27, 2022
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram too expressed his shock over the defeat against Zimbabwe. He tweeted, " What a shocker."
What a shocker 😱— Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) October 27, 2022
Pakistani pacer Wahab Riaz wrote on twitter, "Heart Broken".
Can Pakistan still qualify for the semis? With two back-to-back defeats on the final ball of the matches against India and Zimbabwe, it is quite unlikely for the green shirts to qualify for the semis. But, the team still has an outside chance.
If all these factors are put to play, then Pakistan has some chance to qualify for the semis. Otherwise the Babar Azam's side will have to depart Australia empty handed
Pakistan next play Netherlands on October 30, South Africa on November 3 and Bangladesh on November 6.