Entering the Cricket World Cup 2023 as one of the favorites, the Babar Azam-led Pakistan cricket team’s journey concluded in a rather unceremonious manner. The team, which promised much, could only muster four wins in their nine games during the round-robin stage, culminating in a 93-run defeat to England that quashed their semi-final hopes.
Pakistan’s final match against England was a critical one, where a highly improbable task awaited them. After England set a daunting 338-run target, Pakistan needed to chase it down in just 6.4 overs to progress, a feat that bordered on the impossible. However, the lack of fight from the Pakistan top-order was what truly disheartened the fans and critics alike.
Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman and ex-national team captain Ramiz Raja voiced his frustration, critiquing the team’s outdated approach. Speaking on Star Sports, Raja expressed concern over the team’s adherence to a style of play reminiscent of the 1980s, which he believed was inadequate to compete against teams that had evolved in terms of aggression, thinking, and strategy. He underscored the need for a mental overhaul, given that the core of the team, including young talents like Shaheen Afridi and Babar Azam, is expected to remain unchanged until the next World Cup.
Raja was particularly critical of the team’s bowling and their ineptitude against spin, which he found surprising for a sub-continent team. The losses to Afghanistan and India were pivotal, exposing Pakistan’s inability to ramp up aggression when needed.
In their final match, England, though already out of semi-final contention, found solace in overpowering a demoralized Pakistan. This win allowed England to finish seventh in the ten-team table, securing their place in the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s slim semi-final hopes vanished with England’s robust first innings, where they posted 337 for nine. In response, Pakistan’s batting lineup crumbled, managing only 244 in 43.3 overs. Their batsmen struggled against England’s bowlers, notably failing to negotiate Adil Rashid’s googlies and David Willey’s swing.
The match also highlighted a broader issue in Pakistan’s approach to batting, which seemed outdated and unable to cope with the demands of modern one-day cricket. Key players like Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan struggled to up the ante, letting the game drift away with a lackluster partnership.
The 2023 World Cup campaign for Pakistan, thus, was a tale of missed opportunities and a failure to adapt to the evolving landscape of international cricket. It serves as a stark reminder that talent alone is not enough. Adaptability, strategic acumen, and mental toughness are equally vital in competing at the highest level. As Pakistan reflects on this campaign, the lessons learned here could be crucial in reshaping their approach for future challenges in international cricket.