EDITORIAL: Cricket is a game of golden uncertainties. After back-to-back defeats against India and Zimbabwe in first two games of tournament Pakistan bounced back and entered the semifinals and then the final against England in the 80,000-plus packed Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday under a cloudy sky.
Moreover, there were some seagulls on the ground to catch their preys that included worms and moths. It was a younger team that was to contest with a mature, experienced England, but it was also pumped up with spirit to do what its seniors did in 1992, and that on the same ground and against the same country.
What went wrong and who failed the game the comments and analyses both by experts and generality would linger for days and months. But back home the people, fed up of politics and the bread worries, watched the game at their residences and in parks as huge screens were put up there to bring home the crucial finale of this thrill-filled tournament. They prayed for success of the national team.
The failure to bring home the cup did moist some eyes, but there was no dearth of appreciation of the team for making it to the final.
What went wrong at the MCG that is debatable, but a few points that tend to attract consensus begin with hard luck that Pakistan lost the toss to England and was put into bat. As normal, but subject to criticism by some, it was Babar Azam-Mohammad Rizwan duo that opened the match and as expected was tasked to lay a strong foundation for a longer innings. But that did not happen as Sam Curran clean bowled Pakistan’s run machine Rizwan after the latter managed to add 15 runs to scoreboard. Then Babar was dismissed for 32, and what followed was a sheer crumble excepting Shan Masood’s 38.
According to Shan Masood, the top scorer, “We were aiming for 170 and having looked at the way the innings ended, we could have used a batsman staying in and getting us at least 155-160, which would have been good on that pitch”. But that did not happen and Pakistan’s batting virtually collapsed at 137, and was quite a fair game to be hunted by the Englishmen.
However that being the challenge the hope was still not lost; Pakistan had one of the best bowling quartets. And so it seemed in the beginning as the national team bowled out Butler at 26, Hales at 1 and Salt at 10. But then came the heart-breaking injury of Shaheen Afridi, who twisted his knee while taking a catch to dismiss Harry Brook in the 13th over. This was a great breakthrough for the otherwise cornered England. Pakistan was rated the best bowling team, yet it could not fill the gap the batters left for it.
Of course the failure to lift T20 World Cup is a great loss, but as one sees through the haze of this failure one sees hope hovering over horizon of Pakistan cricket. Compared to most of other contestants for the Cup the national team was younger, but by the time it goes to next clash for 50 or 20-over global contests it would be far more time-tested and immune to withstand pressure.
Shaheen, Naseem, Shadab and Haris are among those who constitute Pakistan’s young brigade that would be the right set of Pakistan for international cricket. What the country needs now is a team that builds up a formidable total - a requisition cut out for the Pakistan Cricket Board. Last but not least, congratulations England on winning your second T20 World Cup.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022