Babar Azam has birthday eve to forget


Babar Azam (Image: Debasis Sen)

“I don’t focus on the past, I try to focus on the future,” said Babar Azam on the eve of the potboiler against India. Pakistan’s captain tried to put on a brave face on Friday at the media briefing. On Saturday, in steamy Ahmedabad, at a theatre called the Narendra Modi Stadium, Babar was left to shoulder much of the blame after being demolished by India in the ICC World Cup.

Babar has been in trouble for a while. From dressing-room murmurs of not being in command and players not listening to him, there was much hearsay. Saturday offered Babar a chance to grasp the leadership mantle and show that he could script a massive turnaround.

But now, the 0-7 record against India has become 0-8, and the knives are out. Pressure, a word which has always been overused in sports, is something Pakistan once dealt with very well. Old-timers will talk of “jigar” and “watan ke liye”, Urdu phrases which resonate, and there is the example of Imran Khan’s Cornered Tigers, who won the World Cup from a hopeless position in 1992.

Babar knew he had to perform like the captain on the burning deck. After all, when the ship is sinking in mid-sea, the captain is the last one who can jettison the vessel. Sadly, “Oh Captain, My Captain, Babar Azam” jumped overboard after scoring a half-century. In tandem with Muhammad Rizwan, the wicketkeeper, he had stitched together a good partnership.

Then began the reckless ride. Babar fell, and so did Rizwan – both well-set batters. This was a collapse like the proverbial house of cards. You’ve got to give credit to the Indian bowlers, each one brilliant. Even more stunning was the way Rohit Sharma, India’s captain, kept ringing the bowling changes. Nearly everyone paid off.

For Babar Azam, this was to have been a day of redemption. Talent, he has in tons. He has been a very good captain for Pakistan. But recently, the ride for both him and his team has been a bumpy one. As the leader, a captain is responsible for both good and bad. Right now, it’s all bad for Pakistan, and Babar is being hauled over the coals. On October 15, he turns 29. This was a nightmare of a birthday eve for a man whose ODI record – 5,474 runs at 57 – is comparable to Virat Kohli’s.

This is the social media age, with opinions ready in a couple of minutes, like instant noodles. Even before the Pakistan innings was over, Shoaib Akhtar had torn the team apart by posting a video. Shoaib is brash, yet you could understand why he was hurt at this Pakistan side being in such tatters. From a comfortable position at 155-2, they quickly came to resemble a crew lost at sea, with no navigation.

For a long, Pakistan’s national politics and its cricket administration (PCB) have made news for the wrong reasons. Imran Khan, a former Prime Minister who was the architect of that title win in 1992, is in jail. The PCB leadership is also weak. Few teams want to tour Pakistan, certainly not India.

It’s a state in turmoil, where the standard of living has plummeted. Cricket could have been a balm for them and wiped away some tears. People looked up to Babar. His dismissal can be dissected endlessly. It was not an unplayable delivery yet Mohammed Siraj managed to sneak one through the gate. On a pitch that didn’t play many tricks, a well-set batter like Babar had to carry on. His dismissal triggered the downfall. And in a short span of time, after Rizwan was utterly flummoxed by Jasprit Bumrah, it was curtains.

One has to credit India’s bowlers for making Pakistan weep. Pace and spin were a deadly cocktail. This was Ahmedabad, the city where Bumrah was born. This was the city where he lost his Dad at five. And for a 29-year-old man coming back from back surgery and rehab, he showed heart and the skills of a pace bowler who knew how to exploit the conditions.

The main theme of this piece is how Babar let Pakistan down. People across the border are not going to take this smilingly. Losing to India is like a curse, something which cannot be digested. The emotions attached to the contest are taut. They snap the moment Pakistan lose. One loss could be digested, but repeated defeats are symptomatic of a deeper malaise.

And that malaise is not restricted to cricket alone. Pakistan’s economy is in shambles, as is their once-proud hockey tradition. So too kabaddi. Babar was supposed to lead a revival of sorts. One could say that this is just a league match lost in the World Cup. But try telling that to the cricket fans. This is a question of “izzat” (respect) and “maidan-e-jung” (battlefield).
Cricket fans are hotheads, and they will mourn this loss. They will also curse Babar, for that is the price one pays for leadership.


Cricket can be ruthless. Saturday was singing for Pakistan until India’s bowlers turned on the heat. If Babar then became the villain, Rohit Sharma and his Men in Blue deserve three cheers. They rocked Ahmedabad, all night long.

The post Babar Azam has birthday eve to forget appeared first on RevSportz | Latest Sports News.


“I don’t focus on the past, I try to focus on the future,” said Babar Azam on the eve of the potboiler against India. Pakistan’s captain tried to put on…
The post Babar Azam has birthday eve to forget appeared first on RevSportz | Latest Sports News. 

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