It is often said in the cricketing world that things can get quite messed up with just one defeat and something similar happened with Sarfaraz Ahmed and his troops. One humiliating loss against India at Old Trafford and Pakistan cricket is in disarray. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side suffered an 89-run defeat against the arch-rivals in a one-sided game in the ICC World Cup and it has also pushed them to the danger of crashing out of the tournament early.
The green shirts have only four games left now and will need to win all of them to brighten their hopes of making the last four. After Pakistan failed to beat India for the seventh time in a row in the World Cup, all sorts of theories has started surfacing to bring out the real reason for the debacle. Pakistan have suffered three defeats in five games - to West Indies, Australia and India - with two out of the three teams posting massive opening-wicket stands to set the game up for themselves.
In their only win so far - against tournament-favourites England - Pakistan managed to dismiss both openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow inside the first 10 overs that went a long way in ensuring a successful defence of their total of 348.
"As a bowling unit we are trying hard, We are all focused to do well in the South Africa match. You need wickets upfront in England but we were not getting that," Wahab Riaz told reporters two days ahead of the team's crucial game against fellow underperformers South Africa.
Though the victory over England was seen as evidence of Pakistan's bouncebackability, after suffering a deflating defeat to West Indies in their campaign opener, the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side hasn't managed to take that forward. The two successive defeats put them a few paces away from the top-four spots, only to be given a glimmer of hope by Sri Lanka's upset against England on Friday - even though their fate is not entirely just in their hands anymore. Riaz spoke about the need for the Pakistan players to lift themselves up from the two losses and do what they do best - play well under pressure.
We shouldn't be thinking about the future
"We have to lift ourselves. We are each other's strength. We are all good friends and know that only 15 of us can lift the team which not even our family members can do. Pakistan plays better under pressure and inshallah, we will quality for the finals and semi-finals," an optimistic Riaz said.
"Our focus is on beating South Africa, and we know we shouldn't get ahead or think about the future. We need to go one by one by what to do everyday. On what we do in the now and not what is happening elsewhere. We shouldn't be thinking about the future," he added.
Interestingly, Pakistan's opponents on Sunday - South Africa - also find themselves in a very similar situation. They've lost one extra fixture but a win on the weekend could yet keep them alive, even if only just. Riaz said South Africa too, like Pakistan, have failed in skills execution and believed their clash will come down to which team handles pressure better.
"But execution of skills is everything. They have failed in that aspect as well like we did, we had matches we could have won. In this match it depends on who handles pressure better and plays better. They will win," Riaz concluded.