'Can't judge players on the basis of one bad series' - Babar Azam
Pakistan's all-format skipper Babar Azam has advised against writing off players after a few flop outings amidst the fierce criticism faced by his side following the unsuccessful New Zealand tour.
Competing in the absence of the injured Babar, Pakistan endured a Test series whitewash at the hands of the dominant New Zealand side. Although the visitors came close to earning a hard-fought draw in the series opener, they were outclassed in a no-contest in the second game.
The constant disappointing feature of Pakistan's heavy losses was Shan Masood and Haris Sohail's torrid run across the four innings. Opening batter Masood was dismissed for three successive ducks while a lethargic-looking Sohail perished cheaply in both matches.
Ahead of the upcoming home assignment against South Africa, Babar jumped to his teammates' defence and asked critics to give time to the under-pressure players.
"We are staying positive for the South Africa series. Even against New Zealand, we performed well, unfortunately, a few players could not deliver," he said in an interaction with the media in Lahore. "Our objective is to back these players – they are good players and we can't judge them on the basis of one bad series. They have performed in the past so we should continue supporting them."
Babar admitted the team was still in a rebuilding phase and requested patience to help the players recoup their confidence.
"You cannot criticise someone after just one or two mediocre series and discard them from the national set-up. You need to back players in order to build good teams for the future."
Pakistan's inexperienced bowling was also found wanting for a lack of penetration throughout the New Zealand encounters. They bore the brunt of Kane Williamson's epic double ton in the Christchurch Test as the hosts comfortably piled on a colossal total of 659-6 declared.
The pace trio comprising of Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah was unable to live up to the hype preceding the series.
"It happens in one series that your bowling tends to be weak. I will mention Shaheen Afridi here, who always gives his 100% whether it is a domestic match or an international game. All the bowlers lead with their attitude," Babar claimed.
"Naseem Shah has slightly struggled but Faheem Ashraf has improved in both batting and bowling. When you go on a tour, it is not necessary that every player performs. Some players will make mistakes but it is a continuous learning process," he said.
Reflecting on his feelings while being detached from the cricket action, Babar expressed frustration at failing to contribute to his team's cause.
"Those three weeks were quite difficult for me as the team needed me badly but I was not available. I have still learned from the experience despite sitting on the sidelines. Getting injured is something that is out of your control."
Giving a favourable update on the state of his finger fracture, Babar added: "I have started practicing after recovering from my injury. I'm feeling no pain in my finger which is why I've begun batting and fielding. Hopefully, you will see me in action after the South Africa series."