How do you plan a game where you need to win by 287 runs? That is Pakistan’s task against England in Kolkata on Saturday to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals: not just win, but also win by the biggest margin in the history of their men’s ODI team.
“We can’t just go in and start shooting blindly. We want that, but with proper planning: how we want to play the first ten overs, then the next 20; how we have to achieve that objective. There are a lot of things in this – like partnerships, [and] which players will stay on the field for how long.”
“I would say that if Fakhar is [batting] “In the match of 20 or 30 overs, we can achieve that,” he said. “Then continue with [Mohammad] Rizwan, [and] Iftikhar [Ahmed]. “We can do it and we have planned for it.”
Pakistan will effectively be eliminated before a ball is bowled tomorrow as raising their NRR will be next to impossible if England ask them to bowl first. Even if they bowled out England for 100, they would have to score 17 consecutive sixes, i.e. complete the chase in 2.5 overs, to be able to surpass New Zealand’s NRR.
There was little else Babar could do other than talk about his team’s chances of qualification, but the prospect of winning by that margin seems fanciful, even against a very confident England team. In reality, Pakistan is very likely to miss the semi-final for the third consecutive World Cup.
“It’s just because I haven’t played like I should in the World Cup; that’s why people say I’m under pressure,” Babar said. “I’m not under any pressure. I’ve been doing this for the last two and a half years, [to] three years. I was the one who acted and I was the captain.
“Everyone says something different: it should be like this or like that. If someone has to give me advice, everyone has my number… I don’t think I’ve had any pressure or felt any different about this. I try to do my best. of me on the field during fielding; [and] “During batting I think about how I should make runs and make the team win.”
He has had a respectable tournament with the bat, scoring 282 runs at 40.28 with four half-centuries, but he has not reached the heights expected of him. “I wanted to do well here. He had high expectations but I couldn’t perform as per expectations,” Babar said. “I accept that.”
Regarding his future in office, Babar said it was out of his control: “On the captaincy, like I said, once we get back to Pakistan – or after this match – we will see what happens. But right now, I’m not concentrating on this: my attention is on the next game.
A 287-run victory might be needed to calm the talks.
Matt Roller is assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98