The Pakistan team may have entered the tournament as the favourites, but they haven’t played like one. They still have a fair chance of making it to the knockout stage, but they have to win both of their remaining games.
The team started well winning the first two games of their World Cup 2023 campaign, but since the loss against India, they were miserable and lost against the underdogs, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
Despite everything going on in the Pakistan Cricket Board and all the rumours, Pakistan finally pulled off their third win of the tournament in their seventh game, which was against Bangladesh. Their next game, which is against New Zealand, will decide whether they will be going to the semifinals or not.
With poor performance from the captain, Babar Azam and spinners, they haven’t been up to the mark.
But against Bangladesh, they have ticked a few boxes and gained some confidence as well.
They played the perfect game they have been talking about, says their coach, Mickey Arthur.
Well, it can be considered as perfect because all the bowlers picked wickets, and restricted Bangladesh to a below-par score of 204.
They even took four wickets in the middle overs, where everything was going wrong for them earlier.
And when it came to batting, Fakhar Zaman, with his exceptional knock of 81 runs, helped his team chase the total in just 33 overs.
Here’s why their next game against New Zealand can be a decisive one?
Pakistan will be locking horns with the New Zealand team tomorrow in a must-win encounter for both teams.
The Kiwis started pretty well, but they are now in a tricky situation as they also need to win every game from here for that fourth spot in the points table.
The Pakistan team are a step behind the Blackcaps as they have won three of seven games while the latter have won four out of their seven. If Pakistan will win tomorrow’s game against them, both teams will be under the same conditions.
If the Blackcaps manages to win this one, they are more likely to retain the fourth spot and strengthen their chances of making it to the semifinals.
While it will not be easy to seal a comprehensive win against the likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Rachin Ravindra, and Devon Conway; captain Babar Azam must step up his game, or he might not just lose his captaincy but his place in the team as well.
In just seven games, he has been able to score just 216 runs with a poor strike rate of 77. With this kind of strike rate, he is not just putting the team under pressure, he is choking himself as well.
His being among the runs will also enhance his decision-making on the field, which will eventually be beneficial for the team as well.
Meanwhile, even if Pakistan wins tomorrow, they need to win their last league game, which is against England.
However, the defending champions will be playing more fearlessly as they are not going to make it to the semifinals, and they also have to finish among the top seven for the qualification of the Champions Trophy 2025.
It is a tough road for Babar Azam and co., but these kinds of conditions in high-magnitude tournaments are what makes a team strong, which is pretty evident with the performance of Afghanistan in this World Cup.
With a bit of fearlessness and grit, team Pakistan can cruise their way to the semifinals.