Pakistan captain Babar Azam said Tuesday that he still clings to the hope that his team can squeeze into the ICC World Cup 2023 semi-finals despite the odds stacked against them.
“Yes. We are trying to win our next two matches and let’s see where we stand,” said Babar Azam after a seven-wicket romp over Bangladesh gave them a third win in seven matches.
“We will take a lot of confidence into those matches.”
Pakistan have six points and sit in fifth place in the ICC World Cup 2023 points table.
Australia, in fourth place, have eight points and a game in hand while third-placed New Zealand are third, also on eight points, having also played one game fewer.
Pakistan face the Kiwis on Saturday in Bengaluru before finishing their ICC World Cup 2023 group campaign against defending champions England in Kolkata on November 11.
As well as two wins, the 1992 champions will need other results go their way if they are to stay in the tournament.
On Tuesday, Shaheen Shah Afridi grabbed three wickets while openers Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique made 81 and 68 respectively as Pakistan chased down a 205-run target for the loss of three wickets with 105 balls to spare.
“We know when Fakhar [Zaman] plays the way he can for 20-30 overs it is a different ball game. So we let him play his natural game and it is good to see,” said Babar Azam of Zaman, the only Pakistan batsman to have scored a double century in one-day international cricket.
Babar Azam added: “We started well. Shaheen took early wickets. The main thing is we stuck to our length in the middle overs and we took wickets.”
Fakhar, a 33-year-old left-hander, was playing only his second match of the tournament after being sidelined with a knee injury.
“We were anxiously waiting for this win,” said Zaman.
“Every win in the World Cup boosts the confidence and our aim is to win the remaining two matches. Our target is semi-final.”
Zaman admitted the defeat to India earlier in the tournament had been a bodyblow but the team had gained new confidence by pushing South Africa all the way.
Pakistan fought hard against the Proteas only to lose by a narrow one-wicket margin in Chennai on Friday.
“That loss to India made the difference, every match against India does but we fought well in the South Africa match and that fight gave us much-needed rhythm,” said Zaman.
Zaman also said the impact of his injury was not as severe as first feared.
“I was batting well in the nets and had the team needed me before I would have played but my aim is to always score runs that help the team win.”
Bangladesh became the first team to be eliminated after six losses in seven games.
“At this moment we have to perform together in all three departments. It’s not any individual that can win us games,” said captain Shakib Al Hasan.
His team still have two games to play in the round-robin stage against Sri Lanka in New Delhi on November 6 and against Australia in Pune five days later.
“We need collective performances. Two more matches hopefully we can bounce back,” said Shakib, playing in his fourth World Cup.
“The fans supported us and are behind us whether we are doing well or not. We have to give something back to them so they can smile.”