Visibly shaken Pakistan captain Babar Azam admitted “we are hurt” after his team was stunned in an eight-wicket defeat by Afghanistan at the World Cup on Monday which put their semi-finals hopes in peril. Afghanistan achieved their first-ever one-day victory over Pakistan in eight attempts as they chased down a 283-run target with an over to spare. Ibrahim Zadran hit a brilliant 113-ball 87 while fellow opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz made a 53-ball 65 to build a strong platform, putting on 130 for the first wicket.
Rahmat Shah’s unbeaten 84-ball 77 and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi’s 48 not out sealed victory against a sloppy Pakistan team.
“We are hurt as a team,” said Azam whose side now have three defeats and two wins in five matches.
They face a formidable South Africa at the same Chennai venue on Friday.
“We must feel the disappointment and my message to my team for the remaining matches will be to learn from this defeat,” said Azam, whose 74 off 95 balls aided by opener Abdullah Shafique’s 58 guided Pakistan to 282-7 after they won the toss and batted.
“We achieved what we set out to do when we batted but we were not up to the mark in bowling and fielding,” said Azam whose bowlers conceded 17 boundaries in the first 16 overs.
“We failed to put them under pressure but I congratulate Afghanistan for this victory.”
Afghanistan, who played four specialist spinners on Monday, also now have two wins in five matches.
“Afghanistan’s spinners are of good quality so the plan was to not give them wickets until the 40th over and then charge in the last ten but we fell some 10-15 runs short,” said Azam.
Noor Ahmad, 18, was the pick of the Afghanistan spinners with 3-49 on his World Cup debut while the more experienced slow bowlers, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman went wicketless.
Despite Monday’s shock defeat, Azam stressed Pakistan can still qualify for the semi-finals.
“From now on we need to play our best cricket in all departments and must overcome our mistakes.”
Azam admitted that the team is suffering from the absence at the tournament of fast bowler Naseem Shah who was ruled out of the World Cup with a shoulder injury.
“Of course, Naseem is missed badly because he had been part of our scheme but overall our bowling has not clicked,” said Azam.
“We knew there are no margin for error on these grounds and we failed to execute plans.”
He added: “We have been perfect in training but I think our bowlers over-tried in matches and have leaked runs. We need to focus on positives and adopt a different mind-set.”
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