The stage was set for one of cricket’s greatest rivalries: Pakistan versus India in the grandeur of the World Cup. For Pakistan, this match held the promise of rewriting history as they aimed to end a streak of seven consecutive World Cup losses to their arch-rivals. The battle occurred at the iconic Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, known for high-octane clashes. However, what seemed like a golden opportunity to overturn past misfortunes quickly became a nightmare.
Pakistan’s journey in this high-stakes fixture started with a glimmer of hope. They appeared on track to set a formidable target for India as they cruised to 155-2, with the prospect of a competitive score tantalizingly close.
In a shocking turn of events, Pakistan’s batting line-up suffered a catastrophic collapse, losing eight wickets for a mere 36 runs in just 13 overs. This dramatic implosion left them all out for a modest 191. It marked Pakistan’s worst batting collapse for the last eight wickets in their Men’s ODI World Cup appearances.
On the flip side, the match unfolded like a dream for India. Rohit Sharma, an enigmatic right-handed batsman, blazed a trail against the Pakistan bowlers. His fiery knock of 86 runs set the tone for India’s emphatic victory, with almost 20 overs to spare.
The aftermath of this nightmarish defeat saw former Pakistan cricketer Ramiz Raja express his concerns. He questioned Pakistan’s performance and what this loss could signify for their campaign in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Ramiz Raja noted the overwhelming environment when playing against India, characterized by an audience predominantly of Indian fans. He emphasized that despite the pressure, Babar Azam, Pakistan’s captain, has led the team substantially and should have risen to the occasion.
“This should hurt Pakistan because they weren’t able to compete. When you’re playing against India it’s such an environment where it’s 99 percent of India fans and crowds, you’re overwhelmed. I understand all of that. But Babar Azam has led this side for a good four or five years, so you’ve got to rise to the occasion. If you can’t win, then at least compete. Pakistan couldn’t do that,” the ICC website quoted Raja.
The statistics reflect the weight of history on Pakistan’s shoulders. This loss signifies their inability to secure a victory against India in all eight of their Cricket World Cup encounters, dating back to their inaugural clash in the tournament in 1992.
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Despite the daunting record, Ramiz Raja remains hopeful for a turnaround if Pakistan and India cross paths again in the tournament’s later stages. He acknowledged that Pakistan must address the mental and skill blocks plaguing them in matches against their arch-rivals.
Ramiz further stated, “It’s a reality, and Pakistan has got to do something about it; they can’t be termed as ‘chokers’ against India because that’s not a great tag to have. Somehow, it’s a mental block, and it’s a skill block as well. Credit to India for maintaining their presence in World Cup competitions against Pakistan; it’s not an easy match for India because emotions and expectations are involved. Then you’re supposed to win because it has been happening for so many years that this can get you under extra pressure. But they’ve handled it so well.”
He credited India for their composure in World Cup encounters against Pakistan, recognizing the emotions and expectations that come with this fierce rivalry. Ramiz Raja believes that Pakistan needs to emulate India’s success in handling this pressure.
Raja pointed out the importance of Pakistan’s senior players rallying around the team’s younger members. He stressed the need for brutal honesty in team meetings, focusing on areas where Pakistan struggled, such as spin and the tendency to lose wickets after scoring well.
“It’s going to hurt them. It’s a scarring, a pasting, a battering,, and they’ve been outpaced and outplayed in all three departments. Babar Azam and the senior players will have to rally around some young kids and find an answer. They’ve got to be brutally honest in those team meetings. I think that is where Pakistan needs to start. On the drawing board saying that our spin has been struggling, we shouldn’t get out after scoring 50 or a 49, and what were the tailenders doing?” Raza concluded.