Pakistan cricket run by ‘fear of failure’—analysts question selection, go soft on Babar Azam – ThePrint

New Delhi: Babar Azam’s captaincy has come under scrutiny following Pakistan’s whitewash against England in the three-match Test series. With this defeat, it has slipped to number 7 in the points table in the World Test Championship.
Babar Azam–the first Pakistani skipper to lose four home Test matches in a year—has been receiving brickbats from cricket fans and veterans alike, with some calling for his resignation. Danish Kaneria, former leg-spinner for Pakistan, referred to Babar Azam as a “huge zero as captain” after the nation’s defeat by England in the third Test on Tuesday in Karachi. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Razi Raja has been sacked with Najam Sethi set to take over as the new chief. There are also reports that the team’s head coach Salian Mushtaq could step down.
Former cricketer and commentator Bazid Khan, however, came out in defence of the 28-year-old. “It is slightly unfair to put all the blame on Babar,” he told ThePrint.
Recently, former cricketer Ramiz Raja praised England’s new approach to Test cricket and encouraged Babar to adopt the same strategy by selecting T20 players for Test matches. Babar  dismissed it, saying Pakistan is prepared for any format and that changing people’s attitudes takes time.
“Targeting Babar Azam alone for recent defeats is harsh. This is collective failure. It was more of a selection problem than captaincy issue,” said GeoTV’s deputy sports editor Faizan Lakhani.
Bazid Khan added that there was a “gulf” between Babar and England’s captain Ben Stokes. “Babar has got the support of his team but he needs support with tactics,” he said.
Also read: Pakistan captain Babar Azam “disappointed” with team after Test series defeat against England
Following the defeat, questions have also been raised about the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s criteria for selection. Bazid Khan said the biggest problem was that Pakistan “had not identified their strengths”. The PCB, according to him, couldn’t decide “whether it was spin or pace that would win them the match”.
Lakhani said it has become an unfortunate trend “to bash the cricket board, captain and selectors after every defeat instead of analysing the shortcomings”.
“Pakistan needs to change the brand of cricket it is playing and players should be given the freedom to play the way they feel comfortable,” he said.
Iceland cricket team’s tweet about the loss also drew attention towards Pakistan’s performance. The satirical tweet said the Iceland team would be “happy to come and tour Pakistan and lose 3-0, getting chopped up and sugared like marmalade. Just letting you know in the interests of balance. And we will score at 0.7 not 7.0 an over.”
Pakistan will have to regroup fast because they next host New Zealand for two Tests and three ODIs starting 26 December.
According to Bazid, the PCB will have to look ‘long and hard’ at how first-class cricket is being run. “Questions like ‘Are six teams enough?’ ‘Do the first-class pitches replicate Test match pitches?’ need to be looked into,” he said, adding that the current team lacks depth in terms of players who can play the longer format, especially fast bowlers and spinners.
“Pakistani cricketers are always in fear of failure and that fear paralyses them in pressure situations,” said Lakhani. “They need to be technically, tactically and mentally strong.”
(Edited by Prashant)
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