The 1992 World Cup champions Pakistan fell short of reaching the semifinals in the 2023 edition, concluding their campaign with a 93-run defeat to England at the Eden Gardens.This loss marked their fifth in nine league games.
As criticism mounted against Azam, who faced challenges with the bat and was scrutinised for his leadership, it became evident that Pakistan secured the fifth position in the ODI World Cup for the second consecutive time.
Akram’s perspective underlines the need to address broader issues in the cricket system rather than singling out the captain for the team’s collective struggles.
“The captain alone is not playing the game. Yes, he did make captaincy errors in this World Cup and Asia Cup as well. But he isn’t alone to blame. This is a fault of the entire system for the last one year or more where the players don’t know who is the coach. You cannot make him the scapegoat here,” said Akram on ‘The Pavilion’ show on A Sports.
Former captain Misbah-ul-Haq agreed with Akram’s views and believes the poor World Cup showing happened due to collective failure.
World Cup 2023: England end Pakistan’s feeble hopes, India to play New Zealand in first semifinal
“As a player, management, we need to realise that it was an overall failure. It has been a collective failure, not one person is to be blamed.”
“We are behind in skills, fitness and were behind in preparation as well. Everything has been disappointing. Our top-class bowling suddenly vanished. Why didn’t we look at our spinners? We have spoken about that if you are going to India, you need all your departments to click. New ball is our strength. We have failed to make an impact with the new ball,” he said.
Akram, though, was quick to point out that captaincy pressure did affect Azam’s batting in the tournament.
“Captaincy has put a pressure on Babar’s performance. He indeed looked stressed, both in the World Cup and Asia Cup. So, he needs to learn how to handle pressure and think only as a batter and how to get runs when he is there at the crease. It is easier said than done,” he said.
He also feels that Pakistan’s poor showing in the World Cup was an inevitable thing.
“I think for me either you are No. 1 or 2,3,4,5 it doesn’t matter. It was written on the wall. Let’s be direct, let’s be honest. First time in history, Pakistan have lost five matches in the World Cup.”
“I am sorry if I am too blunt. It was written on the wall from the Asia Cup onwards. Everybody knew that this team was struggling, there was a fitness problem. This is still a young side, with 10-12 boys under the age of 30. Things can still be rectified,” he added.
Former Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper Moin Khan opined there has to be better planning for performing well in global events.
“Genuinely, not only cricketers but PCB will have to do a self-assessment. We don’t have a pool. Naseem Shah got injured and there was no backup.”
“We didn’t plan and didn’t play any bilateral against top teams. Just before the World Cup, we played for three months in Sri Lanka in hot and humid conditions, and they looked drained out. There was no spark.”
(With IANS Inputs)