Mohammad Hafeez, the Pakistan captain, said he and his team took collective responsibility for its abject capitulation in its final Super 10 game of the ICC World Twenty20 2014 against the West Indies on Tuesday (April 1) night.
The defending champion put it past Pakistan by 84 runs in a must-win game for both teams to storm into the semi-finals, scoring 82 runs in the last five overs to power away to 166 for 6 and then shooting Pakistan out for just 82.
Hafeez himself didn’t have the best tournament with the bat, making just 55 runs. That, coupled with Pakistan’s failure to make the semi-final of the tournament for the first time in five editions, prompted questions as to whether Hafeez was contemplating resigning as captain. “After a loss, such things do crop up,” he said. “But you have to keep in mind that no team wins because of any one individual or loses because of any one individual. It was a good display overall from the team in the tournament but in this match, we didn’t play well. We take collective responsibility, it’s not one person’s responsibility. The entire management, all the players are equally responsible. I apologise to the people of Pakistan as captain and on behalf of the team that we couldn’t live up to their expectations. But these things happen in cricket. It is important that you take the good things going forward and build on that.”
Hafeez believed Pakistan lost the game in the last four overs of the West Indies innings, and in the first six overs of its chase. “We didn’t play very well. The last four overs, we gave 70-71 runs,” he observed. “They took the game away from us. And when we started batting, we didn’t get the best momentum. We played some shots which were not on. It was not the best of displays by the Pakistan players, it is disappointing.
“In the last four overs, our bowlers didn’t do the basics right. The plans were in place but once the pressure got on to them, our best bowlers, Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul, didn’t do the basics right. They leaked too many runs towards the end. We were thinking 125-130 could be the final total but (Darren) Sammy and (Dwayne) Bravo played very well. When you give away 70 runs in the last four overs, it is very difficult to get back into the game.”
Hafeez said the team hadn’t panicked while batting, but some of the shots were a little panicky. “As a team, we were very sure of our plans,” he offered. “The plans were very simple, to play good, technical cricket in the first six overs, score 40-50 runs and then whoever is settled will take the game till the end. But we couldn’t go according to plan. Our batsmen didn’t play the best of the cricket and losing too many wickets in the first six overs really cost us the game. They also bowled very well. There could have been better selection of shots. The batsmen have to take the responsibility.
“We lost four wickets in the first six overs. There was never any one innings that came to the fore. They also bowled very well, (Samuel) Badree first and (Sunil) Narine later. When the momentum is not with you, you get to see this kind of cricket where even good teams can collapse. Overall, we must credit them. They are a good team, they played well today, so they won this game.”
At No. 3, Hafeez spent 32 balls for his 19, symptomatic of Pakistan’s chase stonewalling. “For the last one and a half years, I have been doing this for the team, playing at No. 3, because the management want me to do this. I have been doing very well at this. Unfortunately, in this tournament, I couldn’t get the runs I wanted to. It happens sometimes in cricket – you try your level best but things don’t work for you. This is one such tournament. I am disappointed with my own form, I couldn’t score runs for the team. You have to accept it, you have to move forward from here.”
Making a stirring defence of Umar Gul, who had a middling tournament despite his reputation as a top T20 bowler, Hafeez said, “In T20s, he is our main bowler. He has been doing great every time he has played in this format. Whatever happened in the Asia Cup has happened, but he was coming into this tournament with good attitude and he showed that in some of the matches but unfortunately, today was one of his off-days for him. We really want him to do well but he couldn’t do it for the team.”
Hafeez also emphasized that the team management had played its part and said the players had failed to deliver. He said: “The management has worked hard with the players. They were able to reach all the plans to the players, gave us all the practice. At the end of the day, the players have to deliver, they have to execute the plans. In this tournament, especially in this match, if the execution wasn’t good, then the responsibility lies with the players, not the management.”