The Pakistan captain, Babar Azam, did not mince words when criticizing his team's performance that saw Afghanistan beat them for the very first time in ODIs.
Afghanistan pulled off a historic upset by defeating Pakistan in Chennai in World Cup 2023, leaving both teams with contrasting reactions in the aftermath of the game.
Babar expressed disappointment in his bowlers' inability to take crucial wickets during the middle overs and the fielders' lack of focus and proactiveness. Pakistan had set a target of 282 for Afghanistan, a score that their opponents chased down with ease.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam disappointed by spinners
Babar Azam stated, “Yes, the defeat has hurt us a lot. We wanted to put up a total of around 280-290. After we achieved that, we were not up to the mark with our bowling and fielding.” He emphasized the crucial role of spinners on a pitch that favored them but highlighted that Pakistan's spinners failed to execute their plans, unlike their Afghan counterparts who bowled exceptionally well.
The Pakistani captain also shed light on the team's inconsistency, stating, “We are not able to click in all departments at the same time. When we do well in one area, we struggle in another.” Babar emphasized the importance of attitude in fielding, lamenting the lack of proactive effort and fitness among his fielders.
Despite scoring 74 runs himself, Babar's own form with the bat in the World Cup has not been up to his usual standards. However, he dismissed the notion that captaincy was affecting his batting, affirming his commitment to giving his best in both aspects of the game.
In contrast, Afghanistan's players and coach were jubilant after securing their first-ever ODI win over Pakistan. Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi described the win as “tasting sweet” and praised the professional manner in which they chased the target.
Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi expressed the significance of the victory, saying, “We have been waiting for the last 10-12 years. We have played around eight games against Pakistan, and we won one game in a big event.” Nabi credited the team's hard work in the lead-up to the World Cup, and he emphasized the newfound confidence within the squad.
Afghanistan's victory had a profound impact on their head coach, Jonathan Trott, who believed that the win could inspire the next generation of cricketers in the country. Trott noted the talent in the team and highlighted their fitness and fielding prowess as key factors in their success.
Seamer Naveen-ul-Haq, reflecting on the win, acknowledged its significance for the people of Afghanistan, especially during challenging times. He mentioned the recent earthquake in Herat and stated, “So, there's not a lot of happiness in the country without cricket. So, at least we've given them some moments of happiness tonight.”
— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) October 23, 2023
While Afghanistan has enjoyed notable victories over Pakistan and England in the World Cup, Coach Trott urged his team to focus on consistency and continue improving in all aspects of the game. He credited the players for their dedication to fitness and professionalism, which played a pivotal role in their recent successes.
Pakistan faced criticism from their captain for their bowling and fielding deficiencies, while Afghanistan celebrated a significant victory that could inspire future generations of Afghan cricketers.
The win marked a turning point in Afghanistan's cricketing history, and they look forward to building on their newfound confidence in the tournament. With Sri Lanka and Netherlands next, Afghanistan have a solid chance to add more wins to their bag.