Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz emerged as the heroes of the day for Afghanistan, with Zadran’s impressive innings of 87 off 113 balls and Gurbaz’s swift knock of 65 off 53 balls. The duo set a strong foundation for Afghanistan with a 130-run partnership for the first wicket. Rahmat Shah’s unbeaten 77 off 84 balls and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi’s 48 not out sealed the deal for Afghanistan against a lacklustre Pakistan side.
The criticism towards Babar Azam’s captaincy has been vocalised by several former cricketers. Former Pakistan batter Shoaib Malik expressed his disappointment, saying, “As a batman he is very good, but as a leader…”
Moin Khan, former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter, also criticised Babar, highlighting his failure to handle pressure.
“It’s been four years since he took up the captaincy. But we can’t see that he has learned with time. To use pressure when needed. To use close in fielders when wickets are needed. These strategies you have to do. Especially against Afghanistan, you should have used close in fielders. They have put on two big partnerships,” Moin Khan said in an ‘A Sports’ discussion.
Bowling legend Wasim Akram questioned the decision to give the 46th over to spinner Usama Mir instead of utilising the fast bowlers.
AFG vs PAK ICC World Cup 2023: Fans elated after Afghanistan stuns Pakistan by 8-wicket victory
“45 overs were done. 5 overs were left. Two overs of Shaheen Afridi, 2 overs of Haris Rauf and one over for Hasan Ali are left. And we gave the 46th over to a spinner, Usama Mir. WHY? These things have to be asked,” Akram said.
Another point of 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 is low on confidence when given the ball in power plays. His first over is leaking 18-20 runs. We have been talking in the previous match too that if this situation persists, like New Zealand do – give the 8th-9th over to (Mitchell) Santner. One, it becomes an attacking option, the batters see that it is the final overs of the powerplay and they can end up giving away the wickets. And it’s better for Harris’ confidence that four fielders are on the boundaries when he bowls the bouncers. And if he bowls outside off, he gets a sweeper. So that his confidence comes back. Otherwise, if he leaks four boundaries in his first over, then he is done for the whole game,” former captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.
“We know that Gurbaz and Zadran play pace well. We could have used spin a bit early and bowl wicket to wicket and restrict them. Haris is losing confidence in every match. They should change this strategy,” Misbah added.
Malik questioned the tactic to not use Saud Shakeel, a promising all-rounder who has shown his ability to take breakthroughs in tough situations, as a bowler.
“He (Haris) should be brought in after 10 overs. We know that he is a fast bowler, and struggling. But our spin department is also not performing, then who will do the overs. Shaheen had bowled four overs. You are not thinking out of the box too, Saud Shakeel is there, why you are not using him there,” Malik said.