Pakistan suffered a significant loss in their initial warm-up game against New Zealand this week. Despite setting an imposing total of 345/5, the Kiwis managed to chase it down with more than six overs to spare and five wickets in hand. While Pakistan’s openers performed well, middle-order batsmen like Mohammad Rizwan (who retired hurt after scoring 103), Babar Azam (80), and Saud Shakeel (75) contributed significantly with the bat.
However, the absence of Shaheen Afridi in the bowling attack proved detrimental as they struggled to contain the New Zealand batting lineup. Rohit Sharma, the captain of the Indian team, exchanges handshakes with Pakistan’s skipper Babar Azam following their Super Fours encounter in the 2023 Asia Cup, held at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium on Monday.
In this match, India secured a commanding victory, defeating Pakistan by a margin of 228 runs. New Zealand comfortably achieved the required total in 43.4 overs, with valuable contributions from Ravindra (scoring 97), Williamson (54), Daryl Mitchell (who retired hurt after making 59), and Mark Chapman (remaining unbeaten at 65*).
Although this match wasn’t an official ODI, it highlighted Pakistan’s ongoing struggles in the format. The team had previously suffered two consecutive losses to India and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, and there were also reports of a dressing room dispute shortly after their exit from the continental tournament.
Pakistan started their World Cup preparations by losing to New Zealand in their first warm-up game
Babar had admitted to variances in perspectives but not any explicit arguments. However, former Pakistani wicketkeeper Moin Khan suggests that the Pakistan team appeared to lack cohesion.
“I saw this 100%. The players look scattered, they were hesitant in even giving suggestions to Babar, whether it was Rizwan, Shadab or Shaheen. It was visible that the team wasn’t gelled up. There were no discussions, and even if there were suggestions and Babar was following them, they weren’t working,” Moin told Cricket Pakistan.
The wicketkeeper also expressed the view that numerous Pakistani players appeared to be apprehensive when playing against India. This fear, he believed, hindered them from performing at their best.
He stated, “Another thing was, against India, players are scared. And those who really are scared that their suggestions won’t work… that’s fear. As a cricketer, you have to play on your potential and you should contribute 100%. It’s okay if your suggestions go wrong, it happens.”
“But your body language shows whether you want to win, and that wasn’t visibl. And I’m pretty there were some issues in dressing room. And I know, in professional environment, there are differences but you have to end them to perform better. You have to move on,” further added Moin.
Pakistan is scheduled to participate in another warm-up match against Australia on October 3 before officially commencing their campaign in the tournament by facing the Netherlands on October 6.