Pakistan opening batter Fakhtar Zaman has said the loss to India in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 hurt his side’s morale.
Babar Azam-led Pakistan kick-started the World Cup 2023 with two straight wins, against Sri Lanka and Netherlands. In fact, in their campaign opener, Pakistan gunned down a target of 345 against Sri Lanka to pull off the highest successful chase in 50-over World Cup history.
The Men in Green, however, were hit with a downfall when they met arch-rivals India on 14 October. Five out of six Indian bowlers picked up two wickets each as the hosts restricted Pakistan to a total of 191 in 42.5 overs on a batting-friendly track at Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad.
India captain Rohit Sharma led from the front with his incredible 63-ball 86 runs as the hosts chased down the target with seven wickets and nearly 20 overs to spare.
Azam and Co would then go on a four-match losing streak, which would jeopardise their chances of making it to the semi-final of World Cup 2023. Pakistan finally returned to winning ways on Tuesday when they defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, keeping their campaign alive, at least on paper.
Zaman, who scored 81 runs off 74 deliveries against Bangladesh and was named the Player of the Match, admitted that the defeat at the hands of India did have an effect on the team.
“Of course, an India and Pakistan match is a very big deal. If I say it doesn’t make a difference, I would be wrong. But all the players are professional and have played a lot of cricket. Even against India, they have played a lot of matches,” Zaman told reporters at the post-match conference on Tuesday.
“But I think if you look at our rhythm, we have made a comeback in batting and in bowling – like if you see in our previous match against South Africa. This is a combination. I hope that you will see the same in this match and also in the next. I have been part of this dressing room for the past 8 years, so I feel that the more we play, the more we will improve.”
Pakistan have climbed to sixth place in the World Cup 2023 table with six points from seven matches. They are level on points with sixth-placed Afghanistan, who have played a game less.
If the 1992 winners lose their upcoming fixture to New Zealand on Saturday, Azam and Co will officially get eliminated from the tournament.