A loss to South Africa this Friday would severely jeopardize Pakistan’s chances in the 2023 Cricket World Cup.

However, Pakistan’s vice-captain, Shadab Khan, remains optimistic about their prospects, not entertaining the thought of elimination just yet. With only four points from five matches, Pakistan faces a crucial must-win game against South Africa at the Chepauk. Shadab acknowledged that do-or-die matches generally come with pressure, but he believes it varies for different teams. He explained, “It depends on the individual and the team. I think this reduces the pressure because you have no other option; there’s nothing to lose. If you lose, you’re obviously out of the tournament. So, the more positivity you bring to the match, the better your chances,” as he conveyed during the pre-match press conference.

Shadab expressed his confidence that Pakistan has experience in coming through challenging situations and performing well in such circumstances. He hopes that their winning streak will kickstart from the next game. The expectations for Pakistan have always been high, but situations like these tend to create immense pressure on the team. Criticisms from various quarters have surfaced as they have fallen short in all aspects of the game.

Shadab emphasized the importance of self-evaluation when a player is underperforming. He stated, “You should face reality; if you are unable to perform, then you should be honest with yourself. You know yourself best, perhaps better than anyone else.”

He further advised, “So, I think you should assess yourself. Be honest with yourself. Have a candid conversation with yourself. Criticism is easy, and anyone can do it, but it should not deter you. What is destined to happen will happen.”

Pakistan’s slow bowling department has faced challenges, with only six wickets taken by their four spinners in five matches. Interestingly, Shadab, primarily a leg-spinner, was seen practicing off-spin bowling during an optional net session on Wednesday. When asked about the purpose of this practice, Shadab clarified, “It’s merely an experiment. I was just bowling some warm-up balls. It’s not a significant change.” Notably, Mohammad Nawaz might replace Usama Mir in the playing XI for the upcoming game against South Africa.

Pakistan’s fast-bowling unit has also struggled to make a significant impact. While the pacers have managed to secure 26 wickets in five matches, they have faced difficulties in maintaining consistency.

Shadab offered insights into the situation, stating, “These fast bowlers have performed exceptionally well for us in the last couple of years, both at home and abroad. We have faith in their abilities.”

He concluded, “However, our main concern is that everyone seems to be going through a rough patch simultaneously. It’s a collective problem we are facing as a unit. Hopefully, this situation changes tomorrow, and everyone gets back on the right track.”

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