It is quite simple to see where and how and why Pakistan have underperformed in this World Cup 2023 so far. And it’s not as simple too for them to change it overnight.
Generally, when a big team flops in a major tournament, it’s either one aspect where they have struggled largely. However, Pakistan have been struggling in all three departments in this tournament.
From being the number 1 ranked ODI Men’s team last month, and being touted as a strong contender to lift the World Cup trophy in India, Pakistan have sunk to levels that they are on the verge of being eliminated from the semi-final race just halfway in the tournament.
Babar Azam’s side started the competition with wins over Netherlands and Sri Lanka, and it’s gone all downhill from thereon with defeats to India, Australia, and Afghanistan. They now need to win all their remaining 4 matches to remain alive in the semi-final race. Looks unlikely.
Here are 3 major reasons why Pakistan have been disappointing in Cricket World Cup 2023:
Pakistani bowlers have been ineffective: Shaheen, Shadab, Rauf biggest disappointments
The stats tell the complete story. Shadab Khan has only 2 wickets at an average of 90; Mohammad Nawaz has 2 wickets at 91 apiece. Rauf has 8 wickets at an average of 31 and an expensive economy of 6.97. Usama Mir has 1 wicket in 2 games, he leaked 137 runs in 17 overs. Shaheen Afridi, notwithstanding his five-fer vs Australia, has been ineffective with the new ball: Shaheen has taken just one wicket in the first 10 powerplay overs across 5 matches.
The bowling was supposed to be Pakistan’s strength. But it has let down big time in World Cup 2023 so far.
Perennial fielding mess
Since the time of dawn, Pakistan have simply been lax in their fielding. There are a number of compilations on YouTube of their poor fielding efforts from the decades they have played the game. And it doesn’t seem to improve even with all the modern facilities and information about fitness.
Usama Mir dropped a catch of David Warner when he was on only 10. Warner slammed 163 runs to hurt Pakistan. The Pakistan fielders produced a hilarious, shocking fielding performance against Afghanistan when they let at least four boundaries in the deep which should have been just one or two.
Conservative batting: the problem starts with captain Babar Azam himself
How long before Babar Azam takes a long look in the mirror; how long before Mickey Arthur has a long chat with Babar and demands more runs and a better strike rate from him?
Babar is 29 years old. This is where most athletes are at their peak, form and fitness-wise. Even though Babar is currently the number 1 ranked ICC ODI Men’s Batsman, the performances have simply been not up to the mark and expectations.
He is averaging 31 in 5 matches and has a poor strike rate of 79. He’s failed to stick long enough to convert his two half-centuries into big scores. Since the start of September, in 8 innings, he averages only 26 and has a strike rate of 76. Utterly poor numbers for a batter who is hailed as the best batter in his team, and is also the captain.
In the Afghanistan game, while Babar and Shafique scored their half-centuries at strike rates of 80 and 77, Gurbaz and Rahmat Shah scored their fifties at strike rates of 122 and 91. Afghanistan won with one over to spare. Babar’s slow-go also eat up balls that Iftikhar could have capitalised on even more.
Pakistan need to realise and admit that their best batsman is a major part of the problem.