Hardik Pandya blames timid Babar Azam, Rizwan for Pakistan's World Cup hammering by India; Mohammad Amir responds
Hardik admitted that the team believed strongly that the hosts were still very much in the game despite an 82-run stand between Babar and Rizwan
When Babar Azam had creamed the juicy full toss from Kuldeep Yadav through the covers for a boundary in the 30th over of the first innings on Saturday, the seemingly packed Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad had gone silent. It subsequently brought up Babar's first ever ODI fifty against India, but only the members in the Pakistan dug out rejoiced to the feat as the skipper combined with in-form Mohammad Rizwan in a re-building act with an 82-run stand. Pakistan revived from 73/2 in the 13th over to 155/2 in the 30th over as India stared at a 300-run target. It could have set up a stiff contest, unlike what any of the previous seven India-Pakistan encounters in World Cup, yet Hardik Pandya admitted that the team believed strongly that the hosts were still very much in the game.
Speaking to the broadcasters after the match, where India won by seven wickets, Hardik explained that with Babar and Rizwan not looking to attack any of the Indian bowlers despite their well-settled partnership on a track that had little for the bowlers, they knew that all India needed was one wicket to inflict a collapse.
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"Babar and Rizwan were timid. They didn’t take any chances, which is why we thought we were always in the game. There wasn’t much in the pitch for the bowlers. They didn’t try going for shots or attack us, which is why we were able to bowl dot balls. I have seen that if two players bat in the same way, if one gets out, then it opens up a lot of doors," Pandya said.
And the all-rounder was correct. With Mohammed Siraj getting the crucial breakthrough in the over after Babar scored his fifty, Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah picked two wickets each in quick succession as Pakistan stuttered and later succumbed to just 191 in a matter of 79 deliveries.
Veteran Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir agreed with Hardik completely explaining that just when Babar needed to change his gear after scoring fifty and take the innings long, he faltered.
"Babar played all his innings under pressure and when the time came for a charge he couldn't," Cricket Pakistan quoted Amir as saying. "The stature of a batter like him must have taken the innings along and we can't blame the middle-order batters because they (Babar and Rizwan) had set the stage."
Rohit Sharma's 86 and Shreyas Iyer's unbeaten 50 later helped India chase down the target with 117 balls to spare.
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