I don’t have captaincy pressure on me: Babar Azam

Babar's captaincy has been questioned and he has faced accusations of lacking aggression in field settings.

I don’t have captaincy pressure on me: Babar Azam PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan's chances of making the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup are on a knife-edge after their eight-wicket defeat to Afghanistan.

It was the team's third successive loss at the tournament after two opening wins.

Pakistan's bowling was touted as world class before the Asia Cup and when they restricted a strong India side to 266 all out in a washed out game at Pallekele, commentators saw it as a major warning to World Cup rivals.

But two weeks before the showpiece event, key fast bowler Naseem Shah was ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi has 10 wickets in five games in India but has failed to make an early impact -- his 2-36 against India and 5-54 facing Australia came in losing causes. In the opening wins over Netherlands and Sri Lanka, he managed two wickets at a combined cost of 103 runs.

Haris Rauf has leaked runs, conceding 286 in five games for eight wickets while the spinners have lacked bite on the slow and turning pitches of India. Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Mohammad Nawaz and Iftikhar Ahmed have just six wickets in five matches between them, conceding 502 runs.

Babar Azam is one of the top batsmen in white ball cricket -- he has two fifties at the World Cup -- but his captaincy has been questioned and he has faced accusations of lacking aggression in field settings.

Pakistan media have consistently accused him of favouring his friends in selection.

"As far as captaincy is concerned, I don't have much pressure on me or on my batting. I try to give my best in batting," Babar said after Monday's loss to Afghanistan.

"During fielding, I think about captaincy and during batting I just think about the batting."

Babar has won some sympathy in India for his team having to play in front of crowds where Pakistan fans have been effectively banned.

Tight security has also meant that the squad is virtually confined to their hotels once their playing and training commitments are completed.

There have been frequent, unsettling changes in the the Pakistan Cricket Board set-up -- three chairmen in the past year -- which hurt planning for the World Cup.

Former chairman Najam Sethi brought in Mickey Arthur as team director but he also kept his Derbyshire county job in England.

Directing the team from the UK, he was criticised in some media as a "Zoom coach."

Pakistan officials have also been accused of failing to manage the workload of their fast bowlers with Naseem and Shaheen playing all three formats.

Naseem's most obvious replacements, Ihsanullah and Mohammad Hasnain were also unfit, forcing Pakistan to recall Hasan Ali.

"You were not able to find a coach and since you liked foreign ones you hired an online coach. We change our system frequently and that is showing in our performance in the World Cup," said former Pakistan great Wasim Akram.