By Wisden India Staff in Mirpur
Pakistan captain rues lack of runs on the board, says break in momentum at the back end of the batting innings led to the defeat
Without reading too much into this ninth straight loss to their arch-rivals, Hafeez also heaped praise on Amit Mishra, the Indian leg-spinner who took 2 for 22 in his first T20 International in nearly four years.
“We did think there might be a chance that they could go in with three spinners and we were ready for it, but Mishra bowled really well,” said Pakistan’s captain after the game. “We have to give him all the credit for the way he bowled in these conditions. He wasn’t afraid to toss the ball up to the batsmen and he got some turn because of the pitch, which was a bit damp. The credit goes to him, he bowled really well in this game.”
At the same time, Hafeez rued the lack of partnerships and the absence of any momentum, particularly at a crucial stage of the innings. “The score we wanted on this track, we couldn’t achieve that,” admitted Hafeez. “We were thinking of 150-plus because at one stage, we had wickets hand but unfortunately in the 16th, 17th and 18th overs, the momentum that we got because of the good partnership between Umar Akmal and Shoaib Mailk, we didn’t build on it. They couldn’t continue that partnership, that’s the reason we couldn’t get that total that was on our mind; 150 on this track would have been good but whatever total we had, we did try our level best. But unfortunately, less runs on the board cost us the game.”
Hafeez refuted suggestions that there could be a mental block against India in World Cups. Pakistan has had success against India, especially in One-Day International cricket, outside of the World Cups, but in the big events, it has invariably come up short. “It’s getting into the history now. Whatever has happened has happened,” he observed philosophically. “We tried our level best but unfortunately, we couldn’t produce the result we wanted. But I still think there is a lot of cricket to be played and we are looking at the positives. There were some positives from this game. Bilawal Bhatti bowled really well; Umar Akmal and Sohaib Maqsood batted played very well. Unfortunately we couldn’t win this game but there still is plenty to come in this tournament, we are looking forward to those matches.
“You can call it whatever you want but my personal belief is that we don’t think that because it is a World Cup, we can’t beat India. We don’t go out with that thought. We unfortunately couldn’t break this streak today but the next time, we will try our level best.”
Pakistan couldn’t maximise the first ten overs, only scoring 50 in that period, and Hafeez was asked if that was a bit of a setback. “You can say that, you have to set the tone right from the start,” he conceded. “But unfortunately, one run out at the start of the innings and the pitch – the ball was not coming on to the bat and there was some spongy bounce in it, that’s the reason we couldn’t get a good score in the first ten overs.”
One loss from one match in the Group of Death means Pakistan has its work cut out against Australia in its next game, and against West Indies, the defending champion, going forward. “The batting wasn’t that bad,” insisted Hafeez. “Sometimes, setting a target can be difficult on a pitch like this. I think the middle order batted well, the start was not good. In a match like this, you need one big knock, which, unfortunately, we didn’t get this time. But still, these conditions – the ball turning – are more suited to us against Australia and the other teams and our batting must play its role, there is no doubt about that. We will have our plans against other teams, there is still a lot of cricket left and we need to think positively in that regard.”