Karachi: Shahid Afridi’s captaincy came in for criticism from current and former players after Pakistan squandered a chance to enter their third successive Twenty20 World Cup final by losing a last-over thriller to Australia.
After millions of fans were left disappointed and stunned at their team’s defeat, former Test players felt poor tactics on the field in the final few overs cost Pakistan the match last night.
Australia scored an incredible 34 runs in the last two overs to stun Pakistan who seemed to be cruising to victory after setting a target of 191 for Michael Clarke’s men.
Left-arm pacer Muhammad Aamir went for 16 in the penultimate over while off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was hit for three sixes and a four in the final over by Michael Hussey.
“I have played a lot with Saeed and he is a sort of bowler who struggles against the left handers and in pressure situations, it was not a good idea to give him the final over when they were two left handers at the crease,” all-rounder Sohail Tanvir said.
Tanvir and Saeed both play for KRL and Rawalpindi in domestic cricket and Tanvir, who was ruled out of the World Cup due to a knee operation, said Pakistan paid the price for relaxing a bit in the final few overs.
“I wouldn’t say they were overconfident but they should have remained alert throughout the Australian innings and I would have preferred giving the final over to someone else to make Hussey think his strategy,” Tanvir said.
Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said he would have definitely given the final over to Abdul Razzaq as Saeed was not a confident bowler against left handers.
“Yes, Saeed does struggle against left handers and I would have tried the experienced Razzaq in such a tight situation. But it would be unfair to blame anyone for the defeat because all credit to the Australians for proving why they are a champion team once again,” he said.
Malik showered praise on Hussey and said his innings of 60 from 24 balls was perhaps the greatest limited overs innings he had seen in his career.
“It was a brilliant knock and he took the match away and we also made tactical mistakes in the final overs,” Malik said.
Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar also felt that something was lacking in the team in the final few overs.
“I thought maybe the captain should have got the players together in a huddle or at least consulted with his senior players after the penultimate over when Aamir went for runs on who should bowl the final over or when first ball in the final over, Hussey hit Saeed for a six,” Shoaib said.
“In such situations it is always good for the captain to talk to his players and take decisions. In hindsight, I would have looked at other options to bowl the final over,” he added.
But he said that the Pakistan team deserved credit for putting up a great performance in the semifinal which many people expected to be a cakewalk win for Australia.
“We lost the match but we fought well and there is no shame in losing such a close match,” he said.
Former captain Moin Khan said Pakistan dominated the entire match except the final three overs and it cost them dearly.
“Cameron White and Hussey were outstanding under pressure while our bowlers cracked. That was the difference between the two sides in the final overs,” Moin said.
He said the failure of any Asian team to make the final showed that other countries were adapting to Twenty20 cricket.
Former captain Rashid Latif said it was sheer bad luck that Pakistan lost as Hussey played like a champion batsman.
“I thought Kamran and Umar Akmal were brilliant today,” he said.