The law of averages finally caught with the Pakistani cricket team and they experienced their first loss in the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup. They were unbeaten in the group stages and dished out heavy and comprehensive defeats to teams like India, Afghanistan, and New Zealand. It seemed as if all their cricketers were striking form at the right time and the team was performing like a cohesive unit.
Most cricket pundits did not expect Pakistan to perform with such fierce determination but throughout the group stages, they silenced their detractors with one good performance after another. Hence, the tag of “mercurial team” is the most suitable for this team. When nothing is expected of the team and when they are written off, they consolidate and put up performances out of nowhere.
Pakistan couldn’t manage to beat Australia in the semis
However, last night was not their day. They were scheduled to take on the mighty Australians in the semi0finals. It is a hard task to overcome a rampaging Australian unit in a knockout game in an ICC tournament. It was one of the most exhilarating matches as till the last two overs, both teams were equally in balance to go to the finals.
Australia held their nerves and in the end, comfortably chased down the 176 runs target. It was more of a Pakistan game to lose than an Australian game to win. We look at 5 reasons that led to this debacle for Pakistan.
1. Off Day for Shaheen Afridi
Shaheen Afridi has been Pakistan’s prime performer with the ball. He has been devastating with the new ball. His left arm in-swing has been impossible to pick and he has picked wickets in bunches at the top of the innings. In the 5 league games, he picked up 6 wickets and consistently had an economy of under 8. In the semi-finals, he looked blunt and gave away 35 runs in his 4 overs. He was not incisive with the ball and could only pick a solitary wicket. In his final over, Matthew Wade struck him for three consecutive sixes to finish off the game with an over to spare.
2. Playing Out of Form Hasan Ali
During this entire world cup, Hasan Ali has not been at his best and failed to pick wickets. He picked up 5 wickets in 5 matches and has been wildly expensive. His economy against India was 11, against Afghanistan it was 9.5, and close to 9 against New Zealand. There were calls to include the young speed gun Mohammad Wasim instead of Hasan. However, Pakistan stuck with Ali and it cost them, dear. He failed to pick a wicket and leaked 44 runs in a semi-final.
3. Poor Fielding
Poor fielding and the Pakistani cricket team are synonymous. However, to the surprise of many, they fielded exceptionally well throughout the tournament and hardly gave away runs. Cricketers like Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, and Asif Ali were exceptional in close range as well as in the deep. In yesterday’s game, the pressure got the team and when Mathew Wade was 23, Hasan Ali dropped a sitter at the boundary. It was 3rd ball of the 18th over which Shaheen was bowling. Wade dispatched the next three balls for six and concluded the 18 runs which were originally required in 9 balls.
4. Bad Bowling Changes
Babar Azam is a young upcoming batsman and a captain who is still learning the ropes of the job. It was evident that he was still not completely in grip of his role as a captain. In the middle overs, he bowled Mohammad Hafeez who started off with a no-ball which went for a six. He also bowled a wide and his entire over went for 13 runs. This was the time when David Warner got his eye in and went ballistic. With Imad Wasim and Haris Rauf having overs left, Babar made a bad decision with bowling Hafeez at that point.
5. Sense of Invincibility
After playing their best cricket in the league stage, Pakistan was in a state of supreme confidence. They beat the favorite teams comfortably and marched into the knock-outs. There was a visible sense of arrogance within the team and the fans. When the team posted 176 on the board, the impression was that the match was already won. This overconfidence played a big role in their downfall.