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Babar Azam reflects on Test series loss vs England; says we failed to grab opportunities

"We got plenty of opportunities to win, but we couldn't grab it as a team," said Babar Azam as he accepted that the team couldn't capitalise on various opportunities and didn't play well as a unit.

Kartik Mehindru Written By: Kartik Mehindru @mehindrukartik New Delhi Published on: December 12, 2022 23:14 IST
Babar Azam
Image Source : AP Babar Azam

England's newfound T20-like Test approach was on glorious display as the team rattled Pakistan for the straight 2nd time to win the 2nd Test by 26 runs and seal the three-match series with a game to go. 

Talking about what went wrong, Babar Azam accepted that the team couldn't capitalise on various opportunities and didn't play well as a unit. 

Failed To Grab Opportunities

“We got plenty of opportunities to win, but we couldn't grab it as a team,” Babar said after England bowled out Pakistan for 328 to win inside four days. “Today we also had an opportunity, but we couldn't finish it. Our main bowlers got unfit and it cost us, but that's not the excuse because I believe as a team we didn't play well.”

Pakistan, already without injured Shaheen Afridi for the series, got two major blows when fast bowler Haris Rauf pulled his thigh muscle during the first test defeat at Rawalpindi last week and then Naseem Shah was also ruled out on the eve of the second test because of niggle in his shoulder.

England's Ruthless Way

Fast bowler Mark Wood, who didn't play in the first test, led the relentless pace of England with 4-65 to dash Pakistan's hopes on a slow-turning wicket where the England bowlers used the reverse swing with perfection.

England always came back strongly after it set Pakistan a challenging target of 355 in more than eight sessions before finishing off the game an hour into the lunch on Day Four.

Saud Shakeel (94) scored his third successive half-century of the series and featured in two productive partnerships with Imam-ul-Haq (60) and Mohammad Nawaz (45). 

England broke the century stand between Imam and Shakeel late on the third day to raise England's hopes.

Also Read: Team India sweat it out ahead of 1st Test vs Bangladesh; See what the team is up to

Wood then struck two crucial blows when he ended the 80-run stand between Shakeel and Nawaz when he dismissed both batters off his two overs with the second new ball.

Lack Of Experience

“In test matches, you need experience, how your players perform in pressure situations,” Babar said. “We were in the game and had partnerships going, but we lost back-to-back set batsmen (Nawaz and Saud), then the tail came and unfortunately we couldn't finish the game.”

Babar had to push himself up to No. 3 from his usual No. 4 batting slot after he dropped his experienced test batter Azhar Ali because of a lack of form. The Pakistan skipper made 75 in the first innings, but once he was dismissed on Day Two, Pakistan lost seven wickets in the space of 37 runs and conceded a 79-run lead.

Ollie Robinson undid Babar for only 1 with a brilliant inswinger as the Pakistan captain tried to leave the ball only to see his off stump getting knocked over.

“We had a number of soft dismissals (in the first innings),” Babar said. “There were few good balls, but our batters could have done differently to the deliveries on which they got out. Every player has to step up in different conditions. As a professional, you have to play in worse conditions than this and perform,” said Azam.

Babar praised debutant mystery spinner, Abrar Ahmed, for his match haul of 11-234 as the bespectacled 24-year-old claimed the first seven England wickets in the first innings before adding four more to his tally in the second innings.

“Abrar changed the game in the first innings and had a dream start to his test cricket,” Babar said. “As a captain, you are happy when a youngster earns you wickets.”

England and Pakistan will face one another in 3rd and final Test of the series starting December 17. 

Having lost the first two Tests at home, Pakistan would want to bring their best game forward in order to give fans something to cheer for. 

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