New Delhi: After a hat-trick of defeats, Pakistan will have to play a ‘do or die’ match against South Africa on Friday to remain in the World Cup, because if it loses, not only will the path to knockout be closed, but Babar Azam’s captaincy can also face a major blow.
Babar, who is facing criticism due to Pakistan’s poor performance, knows what could be the fate of losing in this match. From now on, Pakistan has to win every match and also hope that Australia loses at least two of the remaining four matches.
It is said in the cricket world that no one knows what happens to the Pakistan team. One day it looks like a world champion and the next day it may lose to a weak team. It is important for Pakistan to be in form in a tournament like the World Cup and Babar knows that it will take nothing less than a miracle to defeat South Africa, who are performing brilliantly.
Even though South Africa was defeated by Netherlands in Dharamsala, there is a huge difference between the two teams. Quinton de Kock and Heinrich Klaasen have performed well in batting, who have been well supported by Aiden Markram. At the same time, Pakistan’s top talents have proved unsuccessful.
South Africa’s batsmen have so far hit 155 fours and 59 sixes, while Pakistan has been able to hit only 24 sixes and 136 fours in five matches. South Africa’s De Kock, Klaasen, Markram, David Miller and Marco Janssen have had a strike rate above 100, whereas in the Pakistani team, only Saud Shakeel and Iftikhar Ahmed have had a strike rate close to 100.
Shaheen Shah Afridi has been a flop in bowling while Haris Rauf has also not been able to impress. Pakistan is badly missing Naseem Shah. Hasan Ali is not a suitable bowler for ODIs, hence Zaman Khan or Muhammad Wasim Junior can be fielded.
Pakistan’s weakest link is the lack of a good spinner. Leg spinner Usama Mir failed in both the matches. Shadab Khan also could not perform up to his potential. His performance is such that he will not be able to make a place even in the Indian first-class team.
On the other hand, if South Africa wins then the path to the semi-finals will be paved. De Kock is in great form with the bat and has scored the most runs in the tournament so far.
In bowling, Kagiso Rabada, Jansen and Gerald Coetzee have performed well. Keshan Maharaj has taken seven wickets at an economy rate of 4.60. Of the 82 matches played so far between the two teams, South Africa has won 51.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Aga, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim.
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (captain), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Rizie Hendricks, Marco Jensen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Reis van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.
Match time: 2 pm onwards.
Babar’s future as captain will depend on his performance in the World Cup, PCB indicated
Pakistan Cricket Board has indicated that if the Pakistani team fails in the ongoing World Cup, then Babar Azam may have to lose the captaincy. To remain in the World Cup, Pakistan will have to defeat South Africa at any cost in Chennai on Friday. If it loses, all its hopes of entering the semi-finals will end.
The PCB said in a statement, “As far as the board’s attitude towards the media criticism of captain Babar Azam and the team management is concerned, we agree with the former cricketers that success and failure are part of the game. Captain Babar Azam and chief selector Inzamam Ul Haq were given complete freedom to prepare the team for the ICC World Cup 2023.
He said, “Considering the team’s performance in the World Cup, the board will take further decisions which are in the interest of Pakistan cricket. At this time, the PCB urges fans, former players and concerned parties to stand with the team.” Pakistan, which has suffered three consecutive defeats, has four points from five matches. After the eight-wicket defeat against Afghanistan, the demand to remove Babar from captaincy is gaining momentum.
A source said, “Babar’s captaincy will be saved only if Pakistan wins all the remaining matches and makes it to the World Cup semi-finals. Despite this, he can only be kept as Test captain.