Pakistan have returned home after being knocked out of the 2023 World Cup in the group stage. Babar Azam and Co. had been predicted by many to be one of the favourites to make it to the top four before the start of the tournament and while they got off to a strong start, Pakistan’s campaign started fizzling out after they were handed a seven-wicket hiding by India in their third game.
While they started out with two consecutive wins, with the second of those coming against Sri Lanka by breaking their record for highest successful run chase in their World Cup history, the loss to India was followed by three more defeats on the trot. Pakistan never really managed to recover from that run.
Among the factors that led to Pakistan’s early exit was their key players running out of form. While it began with star young pacer Naseem Shah being ruled out even before the tournament started, captain Babar Azam, pacers Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and spin-bowling all-rounder Shadab Khan being far from their best. wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan was their highest scorer with 395 runs in nine matches at an average of 65.83 but he is 13th on the overall scoring charts in the tournament thus far.
Former India batter Mohammad Kaif has said that he feels Pakistan, particularly their pacers, were too friendly and not as intimidating as the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar in the past. “Somehow feel this Pakistan team was too soft, their pacers too nice. Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib were intimidating. They would stare at you, even sledge. Babar, Shaheen, Rauf – they lacked that aura, they looked too friendly,” he said in a post on X. This is the fifth time in the last six World Cups that Pakistan failed to reach the semi-finals.
Among the early aftermath of Pakistan’s campaign has been bowling coach Morne Morkel resigning from his post. “Morkel has resigned as the bowling coach of the Pakistan men’s team,” said the Pakistan Cricket Board in a statement. “He was given a six-month contract in June this year”. PCB said his replacement will be announced before the team’s three-Test tour of Australia starting next month. Pakistan’s team director Mickey Arthur told AFP that Morkel had enjoyed his brief stay in the job. Skipper Babar Azam and Arthur are also under fire for the poor show of a team which was ranked as the world’s top ODI side before the tournament.