From Number One to What Have You Done
A few thoughts on the Pakistan vs. Australia 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final…
What did you do, Pakistan? Where was your head at? Where were the bowling plans?
To start with, who hands the ball to a spinner after seeing the swing and seam in the first over? Let alone a spinner that you know is a favorable match-up for one of the batsmen at the crease who is known to take on spinners, especially in the Powerplay.
The right-armers in the Powerplay kept on bowling towards the batsmen’s pads which was easily helped to fine leg for four (obviously, fine leg was too square). Maybe it’s time to realize that just because someone bowls well in Test matches doesn’t mean they will win you game in T20Is! On the contrary, they may lose you games, conceding over 40 runs in a spell.
Your leggie was brilliant, though. He has come a long way from being trolled for both non-cricketing and cricketing reasons. The speeds were perfect, and he gave just enough flight to tempt the batsman into a false shot. The way he took out the batsman, who would’ve probably taken him down, was just special, even if he was a tad bit lucky.
But you can see that the wicket is assisting spin. Now was the time to bowl the second spinner, not in the Powerplay! He was an extremely favorable match-up to one of the batsmen, so just catch him on strike. The wicket-keeper batsman at the other end wanted pace on the ball anyway to target the midwicket boundary. But no, you had a set formula, the fifth bowler’s overs were done, and there was no need. The Test match bowler got smacked; the first-change guy was decent enough in patches – kept the ball away from the batsmen, mixed it up with some slower ones.
But what happened to your gun left armer; why was he serving up slot balls to the leftie? He got smacked for three sixes. Doesn’t he know he has to bowl yorkers? What do you mean he tried? You either bowl a yorker, or you don’t. There is no try, only do. He could’ve at least tried to keep the ball away from the batsmen’s hitting arc. He has played international cricket for long enough now to know these things.
And don’t even get me started on the fielding.
Wait. What do you mean Pakistan is the team in green?
Everyone was talking about the new kit and how terrible it was, so I just assumed that it must be drastically different from all the ones that came before it, i.e., it would be yellow. Anyway, I don’t watch much cricket these days anyway, yet I could tell you exactly what went wrong. That’s what you get from these guys. They have skills but no brains to execute, plus they are complete mental midgets. The mighty Aussies are a cricketing dynasty that marches on.
Pakistan fans have suffered a lot with this team. They have been there when the slow realization crept in that a Test match win in England was slipping from their grasp. They have been there when the staunch defense of two teenagers was broken in New Zealand and when the most agonizing loss cost them a second-ever series win in West Indies. They have slaved through nights, staying up for this team, willing them to succeed. But they must remember to suffer with the team, not because of it. They were the kings of the world when they won five in five, and they will remain kings in our hearts after the semi-final loss.
As the team sat in that dressing room, with their failure playing in the background on the widescreen television, the captain ascertained that they have found a core. A core that they will stick with, a core that will stay together and united.
And thus, the responsibility now falls on the fans to back that core.
Aggressive batsmen are few and far between in Pakistan. Fakhar Zaman paid back the leadership group for their faith in him. No one in this Pakistan lineup could’ve taken down Starc the way he did. Asif Ali came in when the match was slipping from Pakistan’s grasp twice in two games, and he showed why he is regarded as the best pace hitter in Pakistan.
Asif hasn’t crossed 30 this tournament. Fakhar’s tournament SR is less than 120. Remember their performances.
Opening batsmen must think Shaheen’s tournament wicket tally is a sick joke when they face up for his first over. When he is breathing fire, when the ball bends to his will at the speed of a tracer bullet. Opening over wickets are the most impactful wickets in the T20 game. Remember Shaheen’s performance.
Maybe next time Haris is demeaningly called a tape ball bowler, defend him. When Hasan is criticized, remind them that he is only here because of his strength of will and character. His career was considered over a year ago. He came into the tournament being hailed Pakistan’s best T20 bowler because some people don’t understand Shaheen. Six games later, he shouldn’t have been in the team and either been replaced by a youngster who has averaged 30 odd in his first year of T20 cricket, another youngster who has a seriously bad death bowling record and would be debuting in an ICC tournament, or maybe one of the senior bowlers – maybe the guy who had a death bowling economy of 13 this year or the other one who is technically still retired and had a total of 5 PSL 2021 wickets.
Pakistan’s biggest mistake yesterday was being on the wrong side of probability. Winning seven T20s on the trot is a difficult task. The toss fell in Australia’s favor. If there was any team who knew the conditions well enough to defend a total at this ground, it was Pakistan, but they would’ve needed a perfect game.
They made mistakes, but so did Australia. Their mistakes cost them more than Australia’s because ultimately, Australia knew their target while Pakistan’s kept shifting in their minds. That’s what happens when you bat first. Sometimes you are too conservative. There is evidence to suggest that it’s a consistent issue, but it’s an issue every T20 team faces. Ultimately, Pakistan found they were short on luck, and their mistakes ended up costing them.