Melbourne: Pakistan could have seen a different result if pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi had not got injured during the T20 World Cup final, skipper Babar Azam said on Sunday after his team lost the title clash to England.
Afridi had injured his knee while catching Harry Brooks. He was brought into the attack in the 16th over but he could bowl only one ball and Iftikhar Ahmed had to complete that over. It badly affected the bowling balance.
Ahmed’s friendly off-breaks were belted for 13 runs by England batters by Ben Stokes, who hit him for a six and a four, as pressure created by Pakistan eased after that.
“Maybe if Shaheen could have bowled that over, things would have been different. And since there were two left-handers (Stokes and Moeen Ali) and I thought of bowling an off-spinner,” Babar reasoned.
“Since we did not build a partnership, we went on the backfoot. England bowlers were brilliant but that’s not an excuse. We played according to the situation but pressure was on us till 20th over. Had Shaheen been there, it could have been different.” Pakistan’s middle-order didn’t perform to its potential and they paid the price for scoring only 137 for 8, which was at least 20 runs short of a par score at the MCG.
However, the skipper thought otherwise.
“I wouldn’t blame the middle-order for our defeat. We win and lose as a team. After we were 85 (84) in 11 overs, we should have at least scored 150. But that is the beauty of cricket. Everyday isn’t the same,” the Pakistan skipper said.
A week back, Pakistan wasn’t even in contention of semifinals but South Africa lost to Netherlands and opened up an opportunity for Babar’s team.
The skipper lauded his teammates for their stupendous show at the back-end of the tournament.
“Yes, it hurts to lose a final but the manner in which we played our last four games (including final), the boys deserve credit,” said Babar.
Babar was not willing to talk much about the shortcomings. “We have lost and I can understand that there will be questions raised. But it is too early to predict and we need to discuss a lot of things,” he said when asked if some things need to change in their set-up.