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‘Babar Azam almost cried during very emotional presser’

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Following Pakistan’s humiliation against Afghanistan that left the team’s World Cup dreams in tatters, senior journalist Abdul Majid Bhatti revealed that skipper Babar Azam was on the verge of crying and in emotions spitted out facts before the media.

Bhatti, who is currently in India to cover the mega event, spoke about the fitness issues highlighted by Babar, in his post-match press conference, during Geo News show Geo Pakistan.

On Monday, Afghanistan sailed through 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) to secure their second win in the ongoing tournament.

“In my opinion Babar Azam’s press conference after the defeat against Afghanistan was a very emotional scene that I witnessed with my eyes which you may have not seen from there (in Pakistan). So, in my opinion he was about to cry and in emotions he spoke a lot of facts that normally cricketers do not state,” said Bhatti

The journalist laid the blame on Babar for the current mess that the Pakistan team had ended up in and shared that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had shut the doors on a fitness regimen when Misbah-ul-Haq left head coach’s position two years ago.

He also lamented the importance being given to Biryani, chops and karahi, ever since the team landed in Hyderabad, and lack of focus on diet.

He highlighted that the players are professionals themselves and should focus on it rather than prioritising other issues.

“Before World Cup you (Babar Azam) were arguing with PCB for three months to increase your salary under the central contract. And close to Rs 5.7-5.8 million is being taken by three players — Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Sha Afridi — given the A category central contract. Its okay money is coming in cricket and you must get paid. But when you under-perform and complain about fitness after being captain for 3.5 years, then I think Babar Azam himself is responsible for this,” said Bhatti.

Meanwhile, journalist Sohail Imran dismissed reports regarding fights within the squad. However, he was astonished that the PCB issued a press release over a social media post

“When players and PCB will come out of social media pressure then there will be a vast difference in team’s performance,” said Imran.

‘Don’t know what players are thinking’, Babar Azam

In his post-match conference, Babar reprimanded the team’s poor fielding performance leading to a humiliating World Cup 2023 loss against Afghanistan at Chennai’s Chidambaram Stadium.

Babar blamed below-par performances in bowling and fielding departments for their consecutive third loss in the ongoing mega event.

“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.

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Shaheen Afridi and Babar Azam get special jerseys from PCB chairman

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After the victory over Ireland, Babar Azam surpassed Uganda’s Brian Masaba (44 victories) to become the most successful skipper in T20I history with 45 wins. Since taking over as captain in 2019, Azam has guided Pakistan in 78 games.

In the interim, Shaheen Afridi reached the noteworthy landmark of 300 wickets in international cricket. During the second Twenty20 International, Ireland skipper Paul Stirling became his 300th wicket.

The 24-year-old is also the fifth-youngest bowler to reach the mark.

Since making his international debut in 2018, he has played in 145 matches across all formats for Pakistan. In Test cricket, he claimed 113 wickets, while in ODI and T20I, he claimed 104 and 84 wickets respectively.

Interestingly, in the second Twenty20 International, Pakistan chose to bowl first, and in the fourth over, Afridi dismissed both of Ireland’s openers, bringing the score down to 34-2.

Nonetheless, Ireland reached 193 in their allotted 20 overs thanks to an outstanding 51 runs from 34 balls by Lorcan Tucker, which included five boundaries and two sixes. Gareth Delany also hit a rapid 28 off 10 balls.

Thanks to the half-centuries of Fakkhar Zaman and Muhammad Rizwan, Pakistan was able to successfully chase the 194-run mark with 19 balls remaining.

After early wickets from Babar Azam (0) and Saim Ayub (6), they put up a 140-run partnership in 78 balls to turn the tide of the match in Pakistan’s favour.

With an undefeated 75 off 46 balls that included six boundaries and four sixes, Rizwan top-scored for Pakistan, while Zaman was removed after making 78 runs off of 40 balls.

Another important contributor was Azam Khan, who scored an undefeated 30 off 10 with four sixes. In the seventeenth over, he blasted three sixes off Mark Adair to end the match in spectacular fashion.

Pakistan and Ireland will play their third and final Twenty20 International tomorrow, May 14.

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PCB will install floodlights for PSL matches at Quetta Stadium.

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By installing floodlights by September, PCB will keep its word. Following stadium renovations, PSL matches would also be held in Quetta, according to Naqvi, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

He stated at a press conference held at Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Cricket Stadium that the possibility of holding Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in Quetta was being considered.

In Gwadar and Quetta, he said, the PCB would do its part to promote cricket.
Quetta Stadium will soon have floodlights installed, as announced by the interior minister, which Chief Minister Bugti congratulated for the news.

The province has a wealth of skills, and installing floodlights will help promote sports and cricket in particular. He responded to a query by saying that chances will be given to the province’s youth at the federal level.

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The women’s team from Pakistan travels to England for a white-ball series.

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The national squad left Karachi earlier today to play three Twenty20 Internationals and three One-Day Internationals in the series.

Dr. Muhammad Faisal, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in England, greeted the women’s team and management.

The team will soon depart for Leicester to play a practice match on 9 May against the ECB Development XI. On May 11, in Birmingham, the first Twenty20 International will take place.

Notably, this will be Pakistan’s eighth and final series of the current event cycle. The ODIs in the series are a part of the ICC Women’s Championship 2022–25.

Pakistan women squad for England tour

Nida Dar (captain), Aliya Riaz, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Gull Feroza, Muneeba Ali (wk), Najiha Alvi (wk), Nashra Sundhu, Natalia Parvaiz, Rameen Shamim, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Tuba Hassan, Umm-e-Hani and Waheeda Akhtar

Player support personnel: Nahida Khan (manager), Mauhtashim Rasheed (interim head coach), Saleem Jaffar (bowling coach), Taufeeq Umar (batting coach), Hanif Malik (fielding coach), Syed Nazir Ahmed (media manager), Rabia Siddiq (physiotherapist), Zubair Ahmed (analyst) and Hina Munawar (chief security officer)

Tour Schedule

9 May – T20 warm-up game v ECB Development XI, Uptonsteel County Ground (11.00 am local time)

11 May – 1st T20I, Birmingham (2.30 pm local time)

17 May – 2nd T20I, Northampton (6.30 pm local time)

19 May – 3rd T20I, Leeds (1.00 pm local time)

21 May – One-Day warm-up game v ECB Development XI, Northampton (11.00 am local time)

23 May – 1st ODI, Derby (1.00 pm local time) (ICC Women’s Championship)

26 May – 2nd ODI, Taunton (11.00 am local time) (ICC Women’s Championship)

29 May – 3rd ODI, Chelmsford (1.00 pm local time) (ICC Women’s Championship)

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