Severe criticism of Pakistani cricketers is expected after a loss to India but the experts were rather kind to the players after Sunday’s narrow defeat against the arch-rivals in the Asia Cup in Dubai. “The reaction to losing to India has not been the usual criticism because in the build up to the match the camaraderie shown by players of both teams towards each other was brilliant while our team also fought hard till the final over,” Pakistan’s former captain Moin Khan said.
The match was as watched by millions in Pakistan despite the tragic loss of lives and destruction caused by the torrential monsoon rains and flash floods all over the country.
In Karachi itself, big screens were installed all over the city for the game which ended in a thrilling fashion. “It was a great match and closely fought and I think the Pakistan team even without Shaheen Shah Afridi performed like a champion. Unfortunately we missed the services of a fourth pace bowler,” former Test spinner Iqbal Qasim said.
He said had Pakistan scored 15-20 runs more, they could have won the match.
“Our young pace bowlers specially Naseem Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani bowled brilliantly and with so much heart. It was so inspiring to see Naseem completing his final over despite having severe cramps,” Qasim said.
Former Pakistan wicketkeeper batsman Kamran Akmal praised the all round show of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja noting they were the main difference between the two sides. “I think they performed very well under pressure. Hardik in particular was fabulous in bowling and batting. He is truly a champion all-rounder now,” Kamran said.
Former pace bowlers Aaqib Javed and Sikander Bakht also praised the performances of Hardik and Bhuvneshwar Kumar saying they had read the pitch well. “The use of the short pitched ball was well thought out and it paid them rich dividends. The wicket of Babar Azam and Virat Kohli’s dropped catch in the first over of Naseem were key moments,” Aaqib said.
Sikander was critical about the way Haris Rauf had bowled his final two overs. “Instead of trying to bowl yorkers he was trying to go hard length and short pitch against Hardik who is a very good puller of the ball,” he said.
Aaqib said Pakistan’s biggest problem in white ball cricket was that it didn’t have an all-rounder like Hardik who brought so much balance to the Indian side.
Former skipper Shahid Afridi noted that when two big and good teams play against each other one can expect a close match. “But Pakistan performed hard till the end that is a great sign. I thought Naseem and Muhammad Nawaz really bowled well.”
Former Test great and head coach Javed Miandad noted that India had executed the plan to dismiss Babar perfectly. “It is very difficult to get Babar out in the V so they went for the surprise short ball and they got him. Babar not scoring big runs made a big difference. But I think our bowlers really performed well and that is a good sign to have such enthusiastic and energetic pace bowlers.”
But former Pakistan greats, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar had their own take on the match.
While Wasim felt that Babar had made a big error by holding back spinner, Muhammad Nawaz for the final over, Shoaib said both teams had played bad cricket and both had tried their best to lose the match.
“In the end both teams played bad cricket and it was Hardik who made the big difference,” Akhtar said. PTI COR BS BS
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.