Afghanistan produced a second upset in the 2023 World Cup when the side overcame the Pakistan team without much trouble in Chennai on Monday.
Azam won the toss at the MA Chidambaram Stadium and opted to bat.
He top-scored for Pakistan with 74 runs off 92 balls as they put up 282 for 7 in 50 overs, which met their goal, the skipper revealed at the post-match conference on Monday.
But Pakistan, whose semi-final chances have taken a significant hit with their latest defeat, fell short in their bowling and fielding efforts and the result “hurt” the team, Azam said.
“This loss was very hard as a team. And the batting and our plan was to total 280-290. And when we achieved that, I think we were not up to the mark in bowling and fielding. You have to bowl well and field well. In the middle overs, the spinners didn’t bowl as they should have. They didn’t put pressure on them,” Azam told reporters.
“When you bowl well, and you bowl for 3-4 overs, the pressure comes on the other team. I congratulate their team for the way they played. They played outstandingly,” he said.
Azam also admitted that in a tournament like the Cricket World Cup, if a team does not perform well even in one department, they’ll lose the match.
“In the field, we didn’t stop boundaries and gave away runs and that cost us. All credit to Afghanistan for the way they played in all three departments. That’s why they won,” he said.
“We are not playing good cricket in bowling and fielding. We’ll try our best in the next match. We didn’t hit the lengths in the middle overs, especially our spinners. We couldn’t put pressure on the batters.”
Pakistan stayed put in fifth place in the 2023 World Cup points table while Afghanistan has now climbed to the sixth spot.
As Afghanistan chased down their target of 283 without breaking into a sweat, temperatures in Pakistan soared. Commentators like former team captain Wasim Akram slammed the side’s fitness and called the loss “embarrassing”.
“It was embarrassing today. Look at the fitness level of Pakistan players. We’ve pointed out that these players have not had fitness tests in two years!” remarked the former top international cricketer.
“Their faces are bulging. These are professional players, there has to be a criteria. When Misbah-ul-Haq was coach, there were fitness criteria in place.
“Players hated him. But it worked! Fielding is all about fitness. That’s where we are lacking,” said the Pakistan legend on the country’s A Sports network.