Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir did not mince his words as he criticized Pakistan Captain Babar Azam following his team’s defeat against South Africa in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. Pakistan, opting to bat first, were bowled out for 270, and South Africa successfully chased down the target with one wicket to spare in a thrilling contest at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.
In a scathing assessment of Babar Azam‘s performance, Gautam Gambhir expressed his dissatisfaction, stating, “Babar Azam hasn’t played any impactful innings. Records and rankings are overrated. The real No.1 is the one who wins matches.” Gambhir’s remarks pointed to his belief that Babar’s statistical achievements do not reflect his ability to deliver match-winning performances when it matters most.
Babar Azam’s World Cup Campaign
Babar Azam’s performance in the ICC World Cup 2023 has been a topic of discussion. The Pakistan skipper scored 50 off 65 balls against South Africa, marking his third half-century of the tournament. However, he has struggled to convert these starts into substantial scores. In the previous game against Afghanistan, he managed 74 off 92 deliveries, and in the fixture against India, he contributed 50 off 58 balls. Despite being the current top-ranked batter in ODIs, Babar’s World Cup campaign has raised questions about his ability to live up to his top-ranking status. In the six matches played so far in the tournament, he has accumulated 207 runs from six innings at an average of 34.50 and a strike rate of 79.
Pakistan’s batting struggles have been a recurring theme in the World Cup. While Babar Azam has shown glimpses of his class, the team has faced difficulties in building substantial partnerships and converting promising starts into match-defining innings. In the match against South Africa, Pakistan lost both their openers, Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq, early on, leaving them at 38/2 after 6.3 overs. Captain Babar’s half-century was a steadying influence, but his inability to convert it into a significant score proved costly.
South Africa’s Thrilling Victory
The match between Pakistan and South Africa delivered a thrilling contest, with both teams fighting hard for victory. South Africa, despite being reduced to 250/8 after Aiden Markram’s dismissal for a remarkable 91 off 93 balls, displayed remarkable resilience. Keshav Maharaj (7* off 21) and Tabraiz Shamsi (4* off 6) guided their team to a one-wicket victory by successfully chasing down 271 runs in 47.2 overs.
Gautam Gambhir’s criticism of Babar Azam’s performances in the ICC World Cup 2023 has ignited a conversation about the Pakistan skipper’s ability to translate his rankings into match-winning innings. As the tournament unfolds, the spotlight remains on Babar Azam and Pakistan’s quest to find the right balance between promise and consistency in their batting lineup.