The Babar Azam-led Pakistan cricket team, despite a good start to the Asia Cup 2023, could not keep up the momentum and were knocked out of the Super 4 stage. The Pakistan team were pegged back by injuries of Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah too. Though they fought till the end, Pakistan could not go over the line as victors in a well-contested match against Sri Lanka, and were shown the door. The loss to Sri Lanka would rankle the team for a long time as it was one of the biggest tournament ahead of the Cricket World Cup in India.
To make matters worse, according to a report of Pakistan media outlet Bol News, Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi were engaged in a war of words after the defeat to Sri Lanka. According to the report, after the loss, Babar questioned the role of the senior players in the Asia Cup 2023 campaign. However, Shaheen interrupted him and said he should not generalise and not criticises those who did well. Babar then replied that he is well aware about who is doing well and who’s not. The report added that Babar, went to the press conference after the loss, and on his way to the hotel did not talk to anybody.
Kusal Mendis‘ 91 and an unbeaten 49 by Charith Asalanka helped Sri Lanka edge out Pakistan by two wickets in a last-ball thriller of the Asia Cup to set up a final clash with India. Chasing a DLS revised target of 252 in the 42-overs-a-side contest in Colombo, Sri Lanka needed eight from the final over and achieved the target with Asalanka’s winning hit on the last ball. A raucous home crowd rejoiced but the result broke the heart of millions of fans awaiting an India-Pakistan final in the 50-over tournament, a prelude to the upcoming ODI World Cup.
The loss also hurt the Pakistan team players, especially their skipper Babar Azam. The team captain’s father Azam Siddique has revealed that Babar was not able to even speak afer Pakistan exit from Asia Cup 2023.
“Salam Pakistan. Pakistan played the whole match with half the players and lost on the last ball with a four of a flock. But in this match, I have been shown a total superstar bowler Zaman Khan, who was bowling very well even in high pressure. Win or lose game. It is a part of the team, but the team played the whole competition despite being in half,” wrote Siddiqui in a post on Instagram in Urdu.
“Inshallah, when everyone is fit in the World Cup, it will be fun to see the competitions. Allah only sees what happens with intention and action from the heart. Whether he accepts it or not, He is my Lord. I think the team has sacrificed their lives. Let’s encourage the team at this time and make their hearts big. This is patriotism. Long live Pakistan. (I just talked to Babar, he was not able to talk. I told him, ‘Braves live or learn.’ Never break), ” he added.
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