Babar Azam admits Pakistan were ‘not up to the mark’ in bowling

Pakistan

After losing to USA in the Super Over in their opening match of T20 World Cup 2024, Pakistan captain Babar Azam felt that their total of 159 for 7 in the regular time was a defendable one given the conditions and their bowling attack.

Sent in after losing the toss, Pakistan lost three early wickets and were 30 for 3 at the end of the powerplay. Babar and Shadab Khan helped them recover with a stand of 72 off 48 for the fourth wicket but USA tied the game and went to win in the Super Over.

“Today’s wicket had help for the fast bowlers in the first six overs,” Babar said at the post-match presentation. “But later on, I didn’t feel it was a different wicket. It settled down a bit. Because of the early start – the matches are starting at 10.30am – the fast bowlers will obviously get a little help. There was some juice in the pitch early morning. So they utilised that and executed their plan.

“Even in the second innings, I think we also got help, but we were not up to the mark in terms of our bowling areas. We lacked in that in the first ten overs. We came back after that but they had already taken the momentum. But given the bowlers we have, we should have defended that total. On this pitch, I think it was a defendable total for our bowling.

“We are better than that in the bowling. We did not take wickets in the first six overs. In the middle overs, if your spinner is not taking wickets, then the pressure is on you. After ten overs, we did come back but I think the way they finished game in the Super Over, the credit goes to the US team.”

For Pakistan, Mohammad Amir conceded 18 in the Super Over. It included three wide deliveries, and seven extras in all as the USA batters, Aaron Jones and Harmeet Singh, kept running for wides too. Pakistan, in response, could manage only 13.

“He [Amir] is an experienced bowler,” Babar said. “He knows how to bowl and we were just trying to bowl according to field. But I think the US batsmen were smart. Even when the ball went to the keeper, they were running. So I think that thing was a plus point for them in the Super Over.”

At the same time, Babar also rued not making use of the platform set by Shadab and him. They had taken Pakistan to 98 for 4 in the 13th over but left-arm spinner Nosthush Kenjige dismissed Shadab and Azam Khan off successive balls to dent them again.

“In the first six overs, the ball was holding a bit and seaming around,” Babar said. “So it was important to build a partnership. When Shadab and I had that partnership, we got momentum. I think when we lost the wickets back to back, that was the turning point. The momentum we had was shifted towards the other side.

“It was difficult in the beginning, but we covered it up. But as a professional unit, the middle order needs to step up in such situations. This is not an excuse – I don’t think it was that they played well, I think we played badly.”

Did Pakistan, the runners-up of the 2022 edition, take first-timers USA lightly?

“See, whenever you come to any tournament, you do the best preparation always,” Babar said. “You can say it’s a kind of mindset. When you come up against a team like this, you relax a little. If you don’t execute your plan against any team, then whatever team it is, they will make you pay. So I believe that our execution was not up to the mark. We were doing well in the preparation but in the match, we did not execute our plans as a team.”

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