Imam-ul-Haq believes that now is the time to back Pakistan’s players.

Imam-ul-Haq believes that now is the time to back Pakistan’s players.

Pakistan plays two matches in a row in Chennai.

Pakistan’s World Cup caravan has arrived in Chennai, and they have a slew of issues to deal with. To name a few, batting collapses, high dot-ball percentages, low percentages of sixes, expensive new ball returns, lack of penetration through the middle overs, and fielding lapses.

While they hope to find solutions to these concerns soon, all they can hope for right now is a couple of positive outcomes. After all, given how close the tournament is to the halfway point, their next two games in the south Indian city could be crucial in determining their fate in the competition.

Babar Azam’s team arrives in Chennai after two defeats in which they were comfortably humbled by India and Australia, respectively. The results of those games, as well as other matches taking place throughout the tournament, have pushed them outside of the top four on the points table. However, Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq has expressed confidence in the team recovering from its current position and winning two more games in Chennai.

The batting collapses in both of Pakistan’s losses were disappointing. They only managed 36 runs for their last eight and five wickets against India and Australia, respectively. While Imam acknowledged that it is a source of concern, he also stated that it was time to support the players in their efforts to improve.

“Our start in the last two games was very good. In the first 20 to 25 overs, we had a good run rate. And then we collapsed. That was something we discussed. It’s just that now is the time to support players. We talked about what we could change and how we could improve.”

First up in the Chennai leg will be Afghanistan, who are currently at the bottom of the table but have a good chance of passing Pakistan in the standings if they win big. Given that the game will be played on the same pitch as India and Australia, spin is expected to play a significant role. Pakistan has struggled with both bat and ball in this area.

Pakistani spinners average more than 70, ranking second in the ongoing competition. They are striking at a rate of around 73 balls per wicket, allowing opposing batters to form useful partnerships in the middle overs. None of their three frontline options are good ball turners. Furthermore, Shadab Khan, who was dropped for the previous game due to a prolonged period of poor form, could replace Usama Mir on a pitch where his faster pace could be more useful.

Despite his difficulties, Imam admits that there is little room for improvement during the World Cup. “It’s just that I don’t believe we have any more practice opportunities right now.” We’re just on the tournament, and it’s all about the top up. We don’t have that much time… but the thing is – yes, this is a spin venue ground, and we know that, and the guys individually really depend on how they practice, and it’s just that every individual has their own preparations, and we really back them, and we really back their ability, and that’s just how it is.”

Afghanistan, on the other hand, has been largely potent in that phase, and in fact, it has been their strongest area of operation, thanks to the trio of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi. However, Imam has dismissed that threat and is willing to rely on Pakistan’s recent performances against Asian neighbors.

“Of course, Afghanistan has good spinners who can bowl well in the middle overs.” However, we had defeated them 3-0 in Hambantota. Even so, the conditions were ideal for spinning. As a result, we will support that as well as our ability. Finally, you must play the ball. You are not required to play the bowler. So all you have to do is back up your ability.”

Another major source of concern for Pakistan has been their pacers’ inability to be penetrative enough with the new ball, an area of strength that was the foundation of their ascension to the top of the ICC rankings. While they have done exceptionally well in the death overs, conceding 51 and 55 runs in the last nine overs against Sri Lanka and Australia, respectively, the contest had already gone against them before they could impose themselves, and the death-over efforts merely helped to pull them back  Some of that momentum was lost. Hasan Ali performed admirably as a replacement for Naseem Shah, but he lacks the same potency with the new ball. Similarly, Shaheen Afridi has been a shadow of his former self since returning from injury in April of this year, averaging 42.50 in the first ten overs.
Imam defended the bowlers, saying, “All matches (in this World Cup) have been very high scoring.” It’s not just that it’s against our team. If you look at the other teams, they are scoring 350-360, and yesterday there was a score of 400, so it is not just our bowlers who are struggling.The pitches are good, the grounds are small, and when the batsmen are set, the margin for the bowlers is very small.”
“This is not an excuse, but these are the circumstances.” And it’s true that the bowlers have ups and downs, but Shaheen, for example, I thought they’d score 420 or 430, but our spinners and end bowlers performed admirably and kept them at 360. So, in patches, our bowlers have performed admirably, as has Shaheen. So, these are a few positives, and during the day, you only look at the positives; we try to ignore the negatives because they are difficult to ignore We have back-to-back matches in this tournament, which is critical. We have to back this up when we are bowling well. Personally, I do not believe that this or that is not occurring. Yes, bad days do occur on occasion, and I believe we should support it.”




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