Cricket World Cup 2023 | I’m not sure where you get ‘favourites’ from: Pakistan coach Grant Bradburn

Focus shifts: Shakib and Bangladesh will look to seal a berth for the Champions Trophy by finishing in the top seven.

Focus shifts: Shakib and Bangladesh will look to seal a berth for the Champions Trophy by finishing in the top seven.
| Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

Coach Grant Bradburn wore a confused look on Monday when a scribe inquired how Pakistan went from being one of the favourites going into the ODI World Cup to somehow trying to keep its campaign from foundering at present.

“I’m not sure where you get ‘favourites’ from. There are 150 cricketers who are the best on the planet. In terms of ICC rankings, we know they are skewed because we don’t get to play India and a lot of the top nations, which haven’t been to Pakistan of late,” Bradburn said during a media conference on the eve of his side’s match against Bangladesh.

Pakistan, which started the tournament with back-to-back wins against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, lost all four subsequent games, starting with the fixture against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

Bradburn, when asked whether the seven-wicket loss on October 14 dented his boys’ confidence, said, “Definitely no. That performance in Ahmedabad was a huge experience, having never played at that venue. The unusual experience of playing in front of 1,30,000 supporters of the opposition was good for our boys.”

Meanwhile, if skipper Shakib Al Hasan is to be believed, Bangladesh, which is currently ninth in the standings, has already started preparing the roadmap for the upcoming Champions Trophy.

It recently came to light that the top seven sides at the end of the league stage of the ongoing CWC23 will make the cut for Pakistan 2025, alongside the host. He said, “We came to know about the qualification process ahead of the start of the World Cup. We have to win to be able to qualify for the Champions Trophy. It is an important target.”

Shakib seemed to have had better days since he last addressed the press here two evenings ago after the soul-crushing 87-run defeat against the Dutch. “It will be very difficult to forget today’s game ahead of the next,” he had said.

On the eve of the match against Babar Azam’s men, he even pulled a few journalists’ legs. “Sometimes, a little smile is all that is required,” he signed off.

Come Tuesday, Bangladesh fans will hope Shakib wears the same smile after the much-anticipated clash.

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