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Pakistan’s World Cup woe – what’s gone wrong?

Pakistan under-performed in all three departments – batting, bowling and fielding – in last 3 ties

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Pakistan's World Cup woe – what's gone wrong?

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.

AFP Sport looks at three problem areas for Babar Azam’s faltering team:

World class bowling looks ordinary

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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.

Captaincy in question

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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.

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

Lack of planning

There have been frequent, unsettling changes in 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.”

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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.

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Medvedev called umpire ‘small cat’ during Wimbledon rant

Medvedev called umpire ‘small cat’ during Wimbledon rant

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Medvedev called umpire 'small cat' during Wimbledon rant

Daniil Medvedev bizarrely called umpire Eva Asderaki a “small cat” during the Wimbledon rant that earned the Russian a code violation in his semi-final loss against Carlos Alcaraz on Friday.

Medvedev was beaten 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 by defending champion Alcaraz in a repeat of his defeat to the Spaniard at the same stage of last year’s Wimbledon.

The volatile 28-year-old was handed a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct by Asderaki after his angry reaction to a ball that was ruled to have bounced twice before he hit it.

He narrowly failed to reach the Alcaraz drop-shot and was broken in the ninth game of the first set.

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The tournament referee and supervisor were summoned to Centre Court by Asderaki after fifth seed Medvedev’s furious outburst.

But despite the potential for a disqualification, Medvedev was allowed to continue, winning the first set before eventually succumbing to the relentless Alcaraz.

Asked what he said to Asderaki, the former US Open champion revealed his unusual insult, without explaining what he meant by his choice of words.

“I would say small cat, the words are nice, but the meaning was not nice here,” Medvedev said.

Medvedev claimed he had a previous run-in with Asderaki at the 2022 French Open and was frustrated to be on the wrong end of another double-bounce decision from the umpire.

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“I don’t know if it was double bounce or not. I thought no. That was tricky. The thing is that once long ago Roland Garros against (Marin) Cilic I lost, and she didn’t see that was one bounce. So I had this in my mind. I thought, again, against me,” he said.

“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it.”

The six-time Grand Slam finalist, who has never won Wimbledon, insisted he was not worried that he would be kicked out for his latest clash with the official.

“Not at all because, as I say, I didn’t say anything too bad,” he said.

“The thing is that I think it would be so much easier with a challenge system. The challenge system shows a bounce. So if there was a bounce, it would show it.

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“Then if we use it, we would never have this situation. So I don’t know why don’t we use the challenge system for double bounce, the Hawk-Eye or whatever.”

It is not the first time Medvedev has used the “small cat” description for an official.

In his 2022 Australian Open semi-final win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Medvedev used the same expression in a rant at umpire Jaume Campistol.

On that occasion, Medvedev was irked by the constant talking from Tsitsipas’s father, who was sitting courtside, but he later apologised to Campistol for his rant.

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Defending champion Alcaraz into Wimbledon final

Defending champion Alcaraz into Wimbledon final

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Defending champion Alcaraz into Wimbledon final

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz reached his fourth Grand Slam final at Wimbledon on Friday when he recovered from a set down to defeat Daniil Medvedev.

World number three Alcaraz beat his fifth-ranked opponent 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and will face either seven-time champion Novak Djokovic or Lorenzo Musetti for the title on Sunday.

Twice Medvedev led with breaks in the first set only to be pinned back by Alcaraz.

Such was his frustration that he was handed a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct by umpire Eva Asderaki for an apparent foul-mouthed reaction to a ball called for bouncing twice as he was broken in the ninth game.

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The tournament referee was even summoned to Centre Court by Asderaki, but Medvedev shrugged off the incident to sweep through the tie-break and take the opening set in which he committed only eight unforced errors to the Spaniard’s 15.

It was the third time at this year’s Wimbledon that Alcaraz had dropped the first set.

Alcaraz recovered impressively, breaking Medvedev for a 3-1 lead in the second having come out on top in the previous game on the back of a 27-shot rally.

The 21-year-old then hit 14 winners in the third set, pocketing the only break in the third game.

Medvedev, who had knocked out world number one Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals, retrieved a break early in the fourth set.

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But Alcaraz kept up his assault, edging ahead again for 4-3 on his way to victory.

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Djokovic, Alcaraz to meet again in Wimbledon final blockbuster

Djokovic, Alcaraz to meet again in Wimbledon final blockbuster

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Djokovic, Alcaraz to meet again in Wimbledon final blockbuster

Novak Djokovic swept past Lorenzo Musetti on Friday to book a second successive Wimbledon final against defending champion Carlos Alcaraz and move one win away from a record-setting 25th Grand Slam title.

Just five weeks after undergoing knee surgery, seven-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic reached his 10th final at the All England Club with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 win over the Italian 25th seed.

Alcaraz defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach a fourth Grand Slam final.

Djokovic, 37, can equal Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles and become the tournament’s oldest champion of the modern era if he avenges last year’s final loss to Alcaraz.

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“I have said it many times Wimbledon has been a childhood dream for me to play it and to win it,” said Djokovic, who left Serbia in his youth to train in Germany after escaping the NATO bombing of Serbia in the 1990s.

“It is worth repeating I was a seven-year-old boy watching the bombs fly over my head and dreaming of being on the most important court in the world which is here in Wimbledon,” he said.

The last time Djokovic and Musetti met was at the French Open in June when the Serb claimed victory in a third round tie which ended at 3:07 in the morning.

On Friday, however, Djokovic was untroubled on his way to a 37th Grand Slam final.

He broke for 4-2 lead in the opener and, despite surrendering the advantage and letting two set points slip in the ninth game, he broke again in the 10th to claim the set.

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The second seed was playing in his 49th Grand Slam semi-final while the 22-year-old Musetti was in his first.

That experience was key as Djokovic hit back from losing serve in the opening game of the second set to level in the sixth before dominating the tie-break.

A break in the opening game of the third set launched him on his way to victory against a demoralised Musetti, who saved three match points before Djokovic completed his progress to yet another Wimbledon final.

“I feel a little sad but I have to say Novak played an incredible match,” said Musetti.

“He showed that he’s in great shape, not only in tennis but physically.”

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He added: “We have played seven times but I have never seen Novak play like this today.”

Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in the 2023 Wimbledon final in a five-set thriller.

‘REALLY DIFFICULT’

Victory on Sunday would make him only the sixth man to win the French Open and Wimbledon titles back to back.

“Obviously it will be a really difficult match,” said Alcaraz.

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“But I feel like I am not new anymore. I know how I am going to feel before the final. I have been in this position before.”

Alcaraz crunched 55 winners to the 31 from Medvedev in his semi-final.

Medvedev, beaten by the Spaniard at the same stage last year, twice led with breaks in the first set only to be pegged back.

Such was his frustration that he was handed a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct by umpire Eva Asderaki for an apparent foul-mouthed reaction to a ball called for bouncing twice as he was broken in the ninth game.

The tournament referee and supervisor were summoned to Centre Court by Asderaki, but Medvedev shrugged off the incident to sweep through the tie-break and take the opening set.

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“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it,” Medvedev said of his outburst.

It was the third time at this year’s Wimbledon that Alcaraz had dropped the first set.

Alcaraz recovered impressively, breaking Medvedev for a 3-1 lead in the second, having come out on top in the previous game on the back of a 27-shot rally.

The 21-year-old then hit 14 winners in the third set, pocketing the only break in the third game.

Medvedev, who had knocked out world number one Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals, retrieved a break early in the fourth set.

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But Alcaraz kept up his assault, edging ahead again for 4-3 on his way to victory.

“Probably in my career he’s the toughest opponent I have faced. But I have time to try to do better,” said Medvedev after a fifth defeat in seven matches against Alcaraz.

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