Pakistan may have won the game against South Africa and kept alive its chances of qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup, but that didn’t mean former Pakistan fast bowler didn’t have some criticism reserved for the team. However, in his latest video, Shoaib Akhtar said he is hopeful that Pakistan will qualify for the semi-finals and that he didn’t understand why the Pakistan team was playing under pressure.
Babar Azam should learn to bat like his idol
Akhtar said while Azam has been scoring some crucial runs for Pakistan, he fails to go the full distance.
“I would like to tell Babar Azam that when you consider Virat Kohli your idol then you should also learn to play like him… Virat scored runs in very difficult situations against Afghanistan where the pitch was slow…Babar should learn to take singles like Virat, learn to improvise like him,” Akhtar said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.
“If you look at players like Virat, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson…all these guys accelerate their scoring after reaching fifty. Babar should learn from them. He should have more range of shots,” he added.
This was despite Babar scoring 69 off 80 deliveries.
High praise for Haris Sohail
Akhtar showered praise on Haris Sohail, who scored a 59-ball 89 during Pakistan’s convincing 49-run win over South Africa in a crucial World Cup fixture here on Sunday.
“I was constantly saying that Haris Sohail should be included in the playing XI because he is a very compact player. Against South Africa, he showed how to score runs. Actually, he looked better than Babar Azam.
“Haris provided the thrust and helped Pakistan get a total in excess of 300. Haris Sohail was a great addition and Shoaib Malik was dropped which was a fair call,” said Akhtar.
‘Play fearless cricket’
The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ hoped that Pakistan will continue to play fearless cricket in the remaining games of the World Cup and somehow sneak into the semi-finals.
“I recommend Pakistan to hold their ground, play pressure-free cricket, play according to the best of their abilities and display their talent.
“Pakistan have a good chance of making it to the semifinals. They need to play fearless cricket without any pressure. If England lose their three matches against Australia, India and New Zealand, Pakistan can come through,” said Akhtar.
With five points from six games, Pakistan still have an outside chance of making the last four stage. They will next be playing New Zealand, followed by Afghanistan and Bangladesh. If Pakistan manage to win all three of their remaining matches and results of other teams go in their favour, they could make the cut.
The 43-year-old applauded Pakistan’s bowling against South Africa, saying the attacks managed to get the ball to reverse swing.
“Pakistan’s bowling was very good. (Mohammad) Amir picked up wickets upfront and that was crucial. Pakistan have raised alarming bells for other teams as their bowlers – Wahab Riaz and Amir – have been able to get the ball reverse swing,”he said.
Akhtar, however, was critical of Pakistan’s fielding.
“They dropped as many as seven catches. They dropped fairly easy catches and that needs to be rectified. The fielding needs to be improved,” he insisted.
with inputs from PTI