Pakistan suffered their first-ever loss while defending a 275-plus total in ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup history as Afghanistan stunned the Men in Green chasing 283 runs in a canter in Chennai on Monday, October 23. While Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan helped Pakistan to recover from a tricky situation to get to a score of 282, the hapless bowling attack made all the hard work of the batters come undone. The bowling has been poor but the fielding didn’t support as well given the players easily gave away 15-20 runs due to poor fielding.
Legendary Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram tore into the team’s fielding, lack of effort and fitness levels saying that the fielding display was embarrassing and there has to be a selection criterion with regard to fitness, which seems to be missing according to him.
Speaking on the Pavillion on A Sports, Akram said, “It was embarrassing today! Look at the fitness level of Pakistan players. We’ve pointed out that these players have not had fitness tests in two years! Their faces are bulging! Lagta hai roz ath ath kilo nihariyan khandene (Looks like they have eight kilos of slow-cooked meat daily). These are professional players, there has to be criteria! When Misbah-ul-Haq was coach, there were fitness criteria in place. Players hated him. But it worked! Fielding is all about fitness. That’s where we are lacking.
On the same panel, former Pakistan captain Moin Khan echoed Akram’s views saying that the players looked lazy and drained out.
“For three months we played cricket in Sri Lanka, the players were drained out! You saw that on the field today. It was clear. Players were lethargic and fatigued. No one was able to field. The prime reason for this was that you kept a tour of Sri Lanka before the World Cup where, we all know from experience, that you get drained out!” Moin added.
Pakistan have now lost three out of their five games so far in the World Cup and are on the verge of early exit as do Afghanistan, who may have beaten England as well, but they two are three in five in terms of losses and to dream of a semi-final berth, they have to win all their remaining games.