So close yet so far: what happened, Pakistan?

I feel as if Shaheen Afridi was the root cause of it initially

While Mohammad Amir built pressure at one end, Afridi released it at the other by consistently bowling too short

[caption id="attachment_84197" align="alignnone" width="600"] Glenn Maxwell celebrates with team mates after running out Sarfraz Ahmed

[/caption] After a poor start, the Pakistani bowlers, and Amir in particular, came back superbly to restrict Australia to 307

At one point, the Aussies looked on course to score 370 runs

The comeback in the latter overs by the Pakistani bowlers really shifted the momentum in Pakistan’s favour in terms of the chase

However, the chase couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start

Fakhar Zaman was out for a duck thanks to a shockingly poor shot

Time and time again, he plays ridiculous strokes early on when it’s clear that his game is much more suited to him taking his time initially and then gradually attacking

It is a complete myth that he has the ability to be a power-hitter from the first ball

[caption id="attachment_84199" align="alignnone" width="600"] Mohammad Amir celebrates taking the wicket of Mitchell Starc

[/caption] [caption id="attachment_84211" align="alignnone" width="600"] Pat Cummins celebrates taking the wicket of Fakhar Zaman

[/caption] After the departure of Zaman, it was up to Babar Azam and Imamul Haq to stabilise the innings, which they did brilliantly

They played Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the utmost ease, striking boundaries almost at will

While everyone was praising the partnership, I felt it did have quite a few issues, primarily in terms of strike rotation

Hardly any singles were taken by Pakistan, which has been a recurring issue of late

However, the promising partnership was broken, which led to ‘The Professor’ coming to the crease

Mohammad Hafeez played some sublime strokes along with Imam, until the latter gloved one down the leg-side after reaching his 50

I see a lot of people criticising Imam, but I feel it is undeserved

Yes, he did play 42 dot balls in his innings, which is extremely high, but he is not the root cause of this loss

[caption id="attachment_84215" align="alignnone" width="600"] Imamul Haq watches the ball after playing a shot

[/caption] Imam’s wicket led to a complete batting collapse

Hafeez got out to an innocuous full toss, while Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali lost their wickets to the Australian pacers at a time when their team desperately needed them to perform

In the midst of this carnage, it was Sarfraz Ahmed who steadied the ship

He battled hard and rotated strike efficiently, while Hassan Ali landed a few lusty blows to bring Pakistan back into the game

Hassan, like many of the others, lost his wicket to the short ball, which continues to be a problem for the Pakistani batsmen

[caption id="attachment_84209" align="alignnone" width="600"] Wahab Riaz bats during the match between Australia and Pakistan

[/caption] Enter Wahab Riaz

The next 40 minutes were some of the best cricket you will see at this World Cup

Riaz alongside Sarfraz put on a brilliant partnership

I was happy that the captain actually played his role well, which was to rotate the strike and not look for anything big

But Riaz was the star of the show

He didn’t look like a number nine batsman and the way he navigated the short ball was excellent

Starc and the others are capable of bowling over 145kph regularly, but Riaz dispatched their bowling into the stands with ease and showed the fight and heart we are accustomed to seeing from him

 The way Riaz constructed his innings was brilliant

He defended when he needed to, took singles when required, and hit the big strokes too

Just as the game came into Pakistan’s grasp, the vital wicket of Riaz fell with less than 50 runs required to win

That proved to be the final blow, as Pakistan quickly succumbed to a 41-run defeat

Although it was an exciting game, it was extremely disappointing from a Pakistani perspective

Yes the team showed grit and determination

But ultimately, cricket is about winning, and Pakistan failed to do that for the second time in this tournament

Asif dropped two catches, and scored practically nothing

The issue is, how good is he when he is sent in to construct an innings

We know he can smash a quick 30 off 20 odd balls, but when a proper innings needs to be played, can he do it? Yesterday’s performance proves that he can’t

It’s not a question of whether or not he has the ability to play the kind of shots required for that kind of innings

It’s about how he applies those shots, and uses them in a given situation

Similarly, Afridi was awful

On a greenish pitch, he bowled a wayward line

But that begs the question: why was he even in the team? He has been performing poorly lately, gets very little swing, and his pace is mediocre

Azam, on the other hand, is a brilliant batsman, but after the start he got, he should have made a century

Against England too he missed out on a tonne

He will kick himself if Pakistan return home without the cup, because he was in such tremendous form

Pakistan’s next game is on Sunday, and it is important they forget about this Australia match, especially how they played

That is what I have used as my coping mechanism

Look forward and not back

We have never beaten India in a World Cup game before, but maybe Sunday is the day that changes

However, for the India encounter, I would replace Afridi with Shadab Khan

The rest I would keep the same

Although Asif and Malik had bad games, I feel they can return to some kind of form

Malik has always performed well against India, and I hope he gets the final swansong he deserves

Come on team Pakistan

Let’s wake up! (All photos: Getty)

Date:14-Jun-2019 Reference:View Original Link