Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja recently took a dig at Babar Azam and Co. after they lost their second ODI against New Zealand in Karachi on Wednesday, January 11.
Raja pointed out that the openers failed to perform under pressure, while vice-captain Shan Masood was benched once again. The opening batter didn’t find a place in the playing XI for back-to-back games despite being named Babar Azam’s deputy for the series in the absence of the injured all-rounder Shadab Khan.
Raja, however, backed the under-fire Babar and Mohammad Rizwan despite Pakistan losing the game by 79 runs. Chasing 262, Pakistan were bowled out for 182 runs. Speaking on his YouTube channel, Ramiz Raja said:
“When the vice-captain is benched, especially when he is the opener, it puts the openers under pressure. Similarly, Rizwan has been under pressure. He has to prove himself every time. He dropped a catch because of that pressure."
"Similarly, Babar Azam is always under pressure to score runs every time. So, let this team relax. They have been outstanding in white-ball cricket.”
With opener Imam-ul-Haq scoring 11 and six runs in the first and second ODI, respectively, Masood is likely to get a nod ahead in the playing XI for the series decider on Friday, January 13.
“They struggled against spin” – Ramiz Raja on Babar Azam and Co.
Ramiz Raja also highlighted Pakistan's batters' struggle against spinners as the hosts lost five wickets to them in the second ODI. While Ish Sodhi bagged two wickets, Mitchell Santner, Michael Bracewell and Glenn Phillips settled for one wicket each.
“They struggled against spin," the former cricketer said. "There was no partnership. Under those circumstances, Babar Azam batted well. This wasn’t the pitch where you could’ve easily hit boundaries. The wicket continued to fall on the other end.”
Pakistan had earlier won their first ODI by six wickets, courtesy of half-centuries each from Babar Azam, Mohammed Rizwan, and Fakhar Zaman.
With the series tied at 1-1, the two teams will face off in the series decider at the National Stadium in Karachi on Friday, January 13. It's worth mentioning that Pakistan have never lost a bilateral ODI series against New Zealand at home.
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