Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir has voiced his criticism over Babar Azam‘s captaincy during Pakistan’s Asia Cup 2023 Super Four defeat to Sri Lanka in a must-win match. Pakistan’s loss in this game means they have been knocked out of the tournament, while Sri Lanka have secured their spot in the final, where they will go head-to-head with India on Sunday, September 17, in the summit clash.
Sri Lanka’s resolute spirit crushes Pakistan’s determined fight
Speaking of the game, Pakistan, after winning the toss, opted to bat but faced a rain delay, which shortened the contest to 45 overs per side. However, Fakhar Zaman‘s struggles continued as he managed only 4 runs. A partnership of 64 between Babar (29) and Abdullah Shafique (52) briefly steadied Pakistan. Nonetheless, after Babar’s departure in the 16th over, Pakistan encountered difficulties, finding themselves at 130/5 after 27.4 overs.
Rain intervened once more, reducing the game to a 42-over-per-side affair. Following the rain break, Mohammad Rizwan‘s brilliant unbeaten 86 and Iftikhar Ahmed‘s contribution of 47 played a vital role in Pakistan’s recovery, as they shared a partnership of 108 runs for the sixth wicket. Their aggressive play injected much-needed momentum, guiding Pakistan to 252/7 in 42 overs.
Sri Lanka’s response was anchored by Kusal Mendis, who scored 91 runs, setting a solid platform for the chase. Nevertheless, Iftikhar and Shaheen Afridi‘s late wickets for Pakistan made the contest intense in the final few overs. Ultimately, it was Charith Asalanka‘s composed innings of 49* that sealed the victory for Sri Lanka.
Also READ: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan match in Asia Cup 2023 ends in a rare equal runs and overs scenario
Gambhir asserts Babar Azam’s subpar captaincy in Pakistan’s performance
Following the match, in a discussion on Star Sports, Gambhir offered his insights on the game’s closing stages and criticized Babar for what he deemed as subpar captaincy. The Indian stalwart also highlighted perceived flaws in Babar’s fielding placements.
“For me, extremely ordinary captaincy as well. There was a four hit in Zaman Khan’s over over mid-off and there was another four hit in Shaheen Shah Afridi’s over over mid-off, and both those deliveries were slower ones,” Gambhir said.
“If you want to bowl slower ones, keep the mid-off fielder at long-off and bring the third man up. This is extremely simple captaincy. Imagine if you had 13 runs left in the last over, it would have been difficult for Sri Lanka,” the 41-year-old added.
Gambhir criticizes Babar for being clueless during Sri Lank’s chase
Gambhir went on to raise questions about Babar’s leadership, particularly during the century partnership between Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama, suggesting that the Pakistan captain should have pursued a more assertive approach in the middle overs.
“You were allowing the game to drift at one stage. You wanted to complete your sixth bowler’s quota. It doesn’t work out like that. When the partnership was developing between Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama, you should have brought on your main bowlers and tried to pick up wickets,” the New Delh-born cricketer ellaborated.
“Pakistan could have won this game only by taking wickets. If Sri Lanka had batted till the end, they could have won earlier than they actually did. I feel Babar Azam will have to be slightly better in his captaincy as ODI cricket is not like T20 cricket,” Gambhir concluded.