The Imam, The Story Of Babar, Street Outrage In India Defeat > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Imam, Babar rue outrage after India defeat

"Everything was depicted in a bad light after that India defeat."

As India and New Zealand locked horns for a berth in the final of the 2019 World Cup, Pakistan batsmen Imam ul Haq and Babar Azam were in Lahore speaking to the media at the PCB headquarters. It could've been them featuring against India in the first semi-final had their defeat to the West Indies not been a thumping one.

They botched up their chase against Australia, for which the two batsmen took full responsibility, after getting off to a profound start. But, it was their 89-run (DLS method) defeat against India - Pakistan's archrivals both on and off the field - because of questionable decision-making that sparked a fierce outrage.

Unfortunately for Pakistan, their next game, against South Africa, was scheduled after a gap of a whole week. So, the reaction - which stretched from harsh criticism by the former cricketers and anchors on the mainstream media to trolling on the social media, and brought the players' personal lives into public spectrum - lasted for good seven days.

It all started with a video of a group of players, with their families, having an outing in an alleged sheesha bar. Later, it was reported that that outing had taken place in the late hours of the night prior to the Indian game - the claims were rebuffed by the country's cricket board. The players were blamed for having an appetite for fast food - burgers and pizzas, to be precise - which turned into a famous meme on the social media, with the former cricketers questioned their fitness standards.

A lot of trolling surrounded that yawn that Sarfraz Ahmed took, while standing behind the stumps, when the Indian innings restarted after a rain interval. Babar, who played a crucial role in Pakistan's astonishing four straight wins after that loss with two fifties and a century, lamented how the Pakistan skipper was targeted on the social media.

"Everything was depicted in a bad light after that India defeat," he said. "There were always going to be questions on where were we eating and what we were eating. Such reactions are natural.

"Even if he [Sarfraz] has yawned, it is quite natural. It happens to me and Imam as well, sometimes while we are batting. But, everyone made memes on it."

Imam had a struggle of his own throughout the World Cup. Prior to his arrival to England, he had claimed in a media interaction that his selection in the World Cup squad was 'automatic' because of his above-50 average. But, it took him eight World Cup innings to achieve a milestone with the bat when he made it to the Lord's honours' board with a century against Bangladesh last week. He was again labeled a product of nepotism, because of his relationship with Inzamam ul Haq, the national chief selector.

"I don't use the social media during the tours because it is only going to upset me," the left-handed opener said. "We also have personal lives and families. If you people are going to keep an eye on where we are going, what are we doing, or how we are sleeping, it is going to create difficulties for us and hamper us from performing.

"We all were very emotional after the defeat and wanted to win that game because nobody wants to lose to India. You can criticise us all you want on our cricket, but it shouldn't have to do anything with our personal life, because it is hurtful."

Reports of factionalism within the team also began to emerge, as it is the case whenever Pakistan lose high-profile matches. But, they begun to fade away with Pakistan's win over South Africa at Lord's. Babar ensured that everyone in the room was reminded of the trend, if in case someone hadn't noticed it.

"This [talks about factionalism] started after the India match. Everyone blamed us and such things emerged in the media. But, where did those reports go when we started to win? If a group of players is enjoying a meal together, it doesn't mean that there is a split within the team. We also went out for food during our four-match win streak. But, nobody brought up the factionalism then."

Babar well and truly impressed during this World Cup. His 474 runs in eight innings broke batting legend Javed Miandad's record for the most runs for Pakistan in a World Cup and saw him surge to number three in the ODI rankings. His unbeaten 101 against New Zealand on a spitting Edgbaston wicket, which helped Pakistan beat the Kiwis by six wickets, was termed amongst the best of the knocks in ODI cricket.

But, with 305 in eight innings, Imam, who bragged about his numbers before the World Cup, didn't live up to the expectations. When he was asked whether his century came too late, he replied: "I also feel the same way. I would have been very happy personally had I performed in the main matches, which would have benefitted the team.

"I was trying to score big and follow-up on my performances from the series against England. But, sometimes things don't turn out the way you have planned them. Perhaps, we could've qualified had I started to perform earlier. But, this is cricket and this is how things happen in it.

"I am still in the process of learning and you continue to learn in international cricket with every new challenge. At 24 I still feel I am very young. I am very confident in my abilities and blessed to have teammates who keep backing me. I try to keep myself mentally strong. A player cannot be satisfied with his performances and I want to set the bar high for myself so I continue to grow. Once I start to feel satisfied from where I am then I will stop learning."

And, there was self-assessment as well. "I played a bad shot and got out [against Afghanistan], but the way Imad Wasim won us the match, I think his fightback should be in the focus. But, I fully agree that we should have beaten Australia. The match was in our favour. We are told to bat deep when we get settled but I didn't do it that day. So, that's on me. I will try to not to repeat it in the future."

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