‘Absent-minded fielders’: Babar blames ‘fielding hiccups’ for shocking defeat against Afghanistan

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CHENNAI: Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam lambasted the team’s poor fielding performance after the Green Shirts suffered their third back-to-back World Cup 2023 loss after Afghanistan secured an eight-wicket win against the Men in Green on Monday.

Afghanistan, who earlier defeated defending champions England, easily chased down Pakistan’s 283-run target courtesy of impressive innings from Ibrahim Zadran (87), Rahmat Shah (77 not out), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (65), and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (48 not out).

Addressing the post-match press conference, Babar highlighted the team’s poor fielding and bowling as the reason behind today’s loss which has significantly impacted the national side’s prospects of reaching the semi-finals.

“Players are absent-minded during fielding […] don’t know what they are thinking,” the skipper said while admitting that the team is “saddened” after today’s loss.

“We didn’t perform well in bowling and fielding [departments]”, he said and also acknowledged that the “spinners didn’t bowl well in the middle overs and didn’t put [enough] pressure [on Afghan batters].”

The 29-year-old also turned down any “added captaincy pressure” and said that he keeps both aspects of his responsibilities separate from each other.

“There is no truth in [team] being under pressure after India loss.”

“Our [game] plans are not seeing success […] Whatever we plan, is not being implemented to the fullest,” the skipper added.

Babar also congratulated Afghanistan on their historic win while reiterating his commitment to win the remaining matches of the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the victorious captain, Shahidi, sporting a cheerful smile, described the triumph as nice.

“This win tastes nice. The way we chased was very professional. Looking forward to the other games. The way we chased today, we’ll do it again. We have been playing quality cricket, the belief was there when we played the Asia Cup as well,” Shahidi said.

The Afghan skipper reflected on the England win and said his men had carried over the confidence from there.

“First was England, today Pakistan, looking forward to the other games. We’ll try to play positive cricket and do a lot for our country.”

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan now have two wins and three losses from their five group games and are ranked fifth and sixth on the points table, respectively.

The two sides have faced each other eight times in one-day internationals (ODIs), with the score now standing at 7-1 following Afghanistan’s maiden win today.

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