Babar Azam conceded that poor fielding and dropped catches against Zimbabwe were the reasons behind Pakistan’s Super Over defeat in the third and final ODI at Rawalpindi. The Men in Green had earlier sealed the bilateral series after winning the first two games.
Babar Azam, who scored a masterful century – his 12th in ODIs – to help tie the game, also rued a lack of partnerships at the top of the innings.
Earlier in the day, it was Zimbabwean Sean Williams who scored an unbeaten 118 to help his team reach a formidable 278. Pakistan looked like they would fall short as captain Babar Azam fought a lone battle till he was joined by Wahab Riaz at the crease. The duo, however, could not get their team over the line as Babar Azam got out in the penultimate over, and needed the heroics of Muhammad Musa, who stuck two boundaries in the last over, to tie the game.
But in the all-important Super Over, Blessing Muzarabani, who had picked a five-wicket haul in the contest, restricted Pakistan to just two runs and paved the way for the win for his country.
“I think we can absolutely beat the bigger teams,” centurion Sean Williams said after the win. “We’re tired of competing and getting beaten. That’s no longer acceptable. It’s been way too long and the whole mental approach towards our game has completely changed.”
“Some of the young players in the changing room, like Wesley Madhevere, are remarkably good players.” continued Sean Williams. “This experience allows those younger guys to play and beat the bigger teams. Blessing has got a long career ahead of him, so there’s a lot more to come from us.”
The win means Zimbabwe gain 10 points in the newly created World Super League (WSL), which helps qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
Despite winning the series, Babar Azam acknowledged that losing points was disappointing. “There are 24 matches in the WSL, so it hurts to drop ten points here,” he pointed out. “We’ll look at this series when the next one comes, and give 100% because every match you lose means you lose ten points.”
Elaborating on the main reason for the defeat, the Pakistani captain added “We need to work on our fielding so we don’t drop so many catches. Those catches give good players second and third chances, and that hurt us in the end. We have to learn from our mistakes. I think it was a good performance for us, but unfortunately, we couldn’t quite get over the line.”
Eyebrows were also raised when Babar Azam, despite scoring an almost chanceless century, did not come out to bat in the Super Over. Instead, it was Khushdil Shah, on his ODI debut, alongside Iftikhar Ahmed who strode out, the latter getting dismissed off the very first ball of the Super Over.
“In the Super Over, the players we sent we did after thinking through carefully,” Babar Azam said. “These are our finishers. They are power-hitters, and we sent Iftikhar because we wanted a left-right combination. Unfortunately, he could not finish it off, but it happens sometimes.”
The two teams now face-off in a three-match T20 series starting November 7 at Rawalpindi.