Even until the start of the 16th over of England’s chase, Pakistan were rightly in the game in the T20 World Cup final on Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. And that’s despite the team managing to set a target of just 138. The fiery pace attack had pushed England on back foot. But Shaheen Afridi’s injury and captain Babar’s Azam‘s choice to give Iftikhar Ahmed to finish the 16th over, gave England the opportunity to bounce back. 14 balls later, England emerged as champions, for the second time in history. Former Pakistan skipper Misbah ul Haq admitted that Pakistan fought hard in the final, but lambasted their ‘laid-back approach’ at the crucial junctures of the game.
Speaking to A Sports after Pakistan’s five-wicket loss, Misbah felt that Pakistan couldn’t handle the pressure well in the final and their lack of composure led them to commit big mistakes. He added that Pakistan lacked discipline, game awareness and was laid back in their approach.
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“It was indeed a top effort from Pakistan. They really fought hard. But what I feel, they couldn’t handle the pressure. The pressure of a final…somehow I felt that we were under pressure and couldn’t execute our plans. We committed errors because we weren’t calm. Clearly, we lacked discipline and game awareness, in both batting and bowling. If you have a laid-back approach in such a big match, one mistake can cost you big,” he said.
Misbah also felt that Pakistan got it tactically wrong when they sent Iftikhar Ahmed to bat after Adil Rashid dismissed Babar Azam, instead of Shadab Khan. With Rashid still having an over left, he felt Shadab, a better spin-hitter, could have handled the leggie before Iftikhar was sent in the fag end of the innings to target the pacers.
“As rightly pointed out, in the 12th over, Babar was dismissed after we managed to get the momentum in the match and had properly delivered that punch to England. Shadab should have batted next because of match-ups. You have to be proactive, you cannot put everything to faith. It is silly not to use all the data available which clearly says that one of your best batsman against that type of bowling…and he had another over left. Iftikhar could have come in late and hit those shots square of the wicket. Then Shaheen’s injury was a big blow,” he said.
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