Pakistan will try to get their World Cup 2023 quest back on track when they play Afghanistan today at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. They have lost their last two games.
The team lost to India, their biggest rival, and a resurgent Australia, which has led to a lot of criticism from fans and past cricket players who question Babar Azam’s ability to lead.
Pakistan has fond memories of the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, where the flashy left-handed opener Saeed Anwar hit a huge 194 against India in 1997.
At the time, it was the best score by a single player in an ODI, and Anwar’s heroics helped Pakistan beat Men in Blue by 35 runs.
Pakistan kept their two-game winning streak at the ground going with a six-wicket win over India in 2012.
Before the match, opener Imam-ul-Haq told the press, “We have a great record here, so I am sure that will be a motivation.”
In 1997, Anwar smashed the India team, which had stars like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Haq was only two years old at the time.
“Although I don’t have any memory of Saeed Anwar’s record, that too will be a motivation.”
The 1992 winners, Pakistan, started the World Cup by beating the Netherlands and Sri Lanka. But then they lost their next two games.
With the top four teams going to the semi-finals, they have dropped to fifth place in the 10-team table.
“We know we didn’t play well in those games,” Haq said on Sunday.
“We were not up to the mark, did not get the execution right and defeat always lowers morale.”
In Ahmedabad, Haq made 36 runs against India, but Pakistan lost by seven wickets after going from 155-2 to 191 all out.
The 27-year-old then scored 70 runs against Australia in Bengaluru, where Pakistan lost by 62 runs after setting a tough goal of 368 runs.
“We dropped crucial catches and that hurt,” stated Haq.
David Warner was on 10 when Usama Mir stopped him off Shaheen Shah Afridi. He went on to score 163 runs and share a record-setting opening stand of 259 runs with Mitchell Marsh, who scored 121.
“Things will be different tomorrow.” “We want to go to Kolkata having won four of our last six games,” Haq said. On Friday, Haq’s team will also play South Africa in Chennai.
Haq also didn’t think that Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan’s three spin bowlers, were a big threat at a place that is known for being great for slow bowlers.
“We know this ground favours spinners and they have quality spin bowlers but we have beaten them 3-0 recently in a one-day series in Sri Lanka under the same conditions,” stated Haq.
“We all know Afghanistan is a good team and in these conditions, they will be tough but we are ready for that and will execute our plans.”