Former Pakistani cricketing stalwart, Mohammad Hafeez, has voiced his support for captain Babar Azam in the wake of Pakistan's Asia Cup 2023 campaign, asserting that the team's defeat should not be pinned on one individual.
Hafeez believes that the loss was a collective outcome and that scapegoating one player won't resolve the underlying issues.
Pakistan entered the six-nation Asia Cup 2023 as the frontrunners, riding high on their recent ODI series sweep against Afghanistan, clinching it with a resounding 3-0 victory.
However, their fortunes took a sharp downturn during the Super 4 stage, particularly after a devastating 228-run loss to arch-rivals India, which placed them on the precipice of elimination.
The Men in Green's journey in the tournament came to an untimely end with a heart-wrenching two-wicket defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka.
Babar Azam needs more support
In a candid exchange with the media, the 42-year-old Hafeez emphasized that Babar Azam should continue to lead the team until the 2023 World Cup. He underscored the importance of not attributing all credit for reaching the final to the captain and similarly not assigning all blame for the defeat solely on him.
Hafeez stated, “Throwing blame on a single player will not solve the problem. Babar should be fully supported for the World Cup, and we can think about changing the captain after the World Cup.”
Babar Azam, the top-ranked batter in ODIs at the commencement of the tournament, faced tremendous expectations. While the 28-year-old commenced the competition with a splendid 151 off 131 deliveries against Nepal, his subsequent performances saw him amass only 56 runs in three games.
Hafeez expressed regret over the flawed planning by the Pakistan think tank for the Asia Cup 2023 but remained optimistic about Babar's team performing well in the upcoming World Cup.
He further remarked, “We failed in the Asia Cup, and we have to accept that. Only when we accept failure will we move towards improvement. There must have been mistakes in our planning as these players have been in the national side for the last two to three years. It will be a challenge for this team to play in India. The boys will have to play with courage, but we should expect good results from this team.”
Pakistan's campaign in the 2023 World Cup is set to commence on October 6th in Hyderabad, where they will face the Netherlands in their opening encounter.