At the T20 World Cup, as is usually the case, Pakistan batsmen failed to score enough runs for their bowlers to defend
Last week, England beat Pakistan by five wickets to win the T20 World Cup for a second time and shattered the Green-shirts’ dream of repeating the 1992 World Cup triumph.
England became the first team to hold both T20 and the 50-over World Cups simultaneously. They had won the 50-over World Cup on home soil in 2019 by beating New Zealand.
In the eight editions of the ICC T20 World Cup, no home side has won the title. England and West Indies are the teams that won the title twice while India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia have won once.
Although Pakistan lost the final, their bowling attack received praises not only from their fans but also from the experts around the world for their courageous fight back while defending a below-par total.
Defending 137 against the greatest T20I batting side, Pakistan kept fighting hard and credit goes to the bowlers as there are very few occasions when a team has defended fewer than 140 runs.
People say that if Pakistan had scored around 150 runs, the result could be different. If any other team was defending such a small total, England would have finished the game in 15-16 overs as they did against India in the semi-final.
After the final, skipper Babar Azam accepted that Pakistan were 20 runs short while setting the target.
Shaheen’s injury was one of the reasons why Pakistan lost the match. His un-bowled two overs could have changed the result.
In the semi-final against New Zealand, he took the wicket of Finn Allen in the opening over and then Alex Hales in the first over of the final.
Pakistan will also miss his services for the home Tests against England and New Zealand.
Pakistan were expected to fly back before the semi-final, but the Netherlands’ shocking win against South Africa provided them the opportunity to repeat 1992 World Cup magic in Melbourne against the same opponent, but England proved that they are truly world champions of the white ball.
Failure of batting can be seen easily in most of the matches in the tournament. Pakistan lost the first game against India, failing to defend 158. Zimbabwe shocked the Greenshirts in the next match as our batting again flopped, failing to chase a modest target of 130.
Pakistan’s first victory came against minor Netherlands but they lost four wickets while chasing only 92 runs. The wisn against South Africa and Bangladesh came quite comfortably. A comprehensive win came in the semi-final against New Zealand when openers Babar and Rizwan provided a century opening stand.
In the final, Pakistan looked set to post a challenging total when they had 84 runs on the board for the loss of just two wickets and at the end of the 11th over and 119-4 after 16 overs.
Shan Masood and Shadab Khan shared 36 runs off 25 balls that made the ground for a big target, but unfortunately last three recognised batsmen Shan Masood, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz were all caught while attempting boundaries.
Pakistan did not recover from that point; 160 could have been achieved easily, if the batsmen had scored at 10 runs per over. A 160-plus score is more than competitive in MCG.
But the men in green managed only 18 runs for the loss of four wickets in the last four overs - less than five runs per over.
Pakistan batsmen play spinners very well, but in the final Pakistani batsmen failed to handle England’s leg-spinner Adil Rashid. He not only stopped the runs flow but also dismissed Muhammad Haris and skipper Babar Azam. Rashid finished 2-20 in his four overs.
For over a year, Pakistan have been facing huge problems in the middle order department and failed to play modern-day cricket in the power play.
Shadab Khan’s fifty against South Africa from No. 7 proved that he can be used as a pinch hitter in the middle when needed.
Shadab came for batting when only one over of spin was left. After that Curran and Jordan’s four overs were left. They didn’t allow Pakistani batsmen to collect the runs through boundaries.
Only 8 fours and two sixes were hit by the Pakistani batsmen in allotted 20 overs in the final while English batsmen hit 14 boundaries and two sixes in the chase of the target.
If Pakistan are to dominate in the T20Is, the management should find at least one master blaster opener like Alex Hales, Jos Buttler or Quinton de Kock.
Only five batsmen scored over 200 runs in the T20 World Cup. Indian batsman Virat Kohli was on the top with 296 runs in six matches with four fifties, averaging 98.66 and a strike rate 136.40.
Surprisingly, Maxwell Patrick O’Dowd of Netherlands left behind other prominent batsmen, scoring 242 runs.
India’s Suryakumar Yadav (239), England’s skipper Jos Butter (225) and Alex Hales (212) were the others.
No Pakistani batter reached the 200 mark. Wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood scored 175 runs each, averaging 25.0 and 43.75, respectively.
Skipper Babar Azam managed 124 runs with one fifty with a mere average of 17.71 and a strike rate of just 93.23. Iftikhar Ahmed (114) and all-rounder Shadab Khan (98) were behind the skipper.
New sensation Mohammad Haris Khan showed his hitting skills in the short span of time with a strike rate of 144.77. He hit 6 sixes and 6 fours in four innings.
Before the World Cup nobody knew Mohammad Haris. Fakhar Zaman’s injury opened the door for him. With the brave innings against South Africa, he suddenly became a sensation.
On the bowling side, Wanindu Hasaranga of Sri Lanka took most 15 wickets with the average of 13.26 in eight matches.
England’s Sam Curran and Bas de Leeds of Netherland took 13 wickets each, averaging 11.38 and 13, respectively.
For Pakistan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shadab Khan got 11 wickets apiece at an average of 14.09 and 15, respectively. Haris Rauf managed 8 wickets with the average of 22.25.
With the sole wicket in the final, all-rounder Shadab Khan became the highest wicket-taking bowler for Pakistan in the T20 format with 98 wickets. He left former skipper Shahid Afridi’s 97 scalps behind.
The 24-year-old leg-spinner reached the milestone in his 84th T20 while Shahid Afridi set the record in 98 appearances.
Shadab Khan scored 98 runs with a strike rate of 168.96 and took 11 wickets at an average of 15 with an economy rate of 6.34.
The eighth season of Pakistan Super League (PSL), one of the most popular T20 leagues, will start from February 9, 2023. Six teams are to participate in the tournament. The PCB management and the selectors must give attention to young players, especially the openers who have the ability to score runs quickly in the power play so that they can become part of the national squad.
The Greenshirts should learn how to score over 170-180 runs as every time the bowlers can’t defend 150 runs. The batsmen should take responsibility and learn quickly to handle the pressure in unfavourable conditions.
Now Pakistan cricket needs some fresh faces to help gain momentum, especially in T20 cricket. Not only the openers, but in the middle too, some match finishers like Hardik Pandya, Ben Stokes, Marcus Stoinis and David Miller should be discovered.
The team needs a power-hitting batting coach who knows the requirements of modern cricket and can train youngsters for international matches.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has time to find out new talent and groom them with the modern cricket requirement so that they can stand on victory stand in the next T20 World Cup that is to be hosted by the US and West Indies in 2024.