Pakistan’s 10th straight loss to Australia, an outright devastation only a day after they had launched their World Twenty20 defence in style, was marred by bizarre captaincy, the return of the spills and the haphazard ways that Pakistan cricket is so accustomed to.
Psychological disadvantage aside, Pakistan were poor and Australia far superior. Even a five-wicket final could do nothing but save face for Pakistan who had, by then, conceded 191 in 19 overs on a pitch where even 150 would have been a defendable total. Hafeez opening the bowling Afridi’s uncanny knack of making wacky decisions seemed to have gotten the better of him yet again.
With a specialist spinner in the side, Afridi opted for Mohammad Hafeez, a surprise inclusion in the squad, and despite Mohammad Aamer’s containing start from one end, runs flowed and pressure eased from the other. Hafeez’s second over yielded 17 and Australia were away. Razzaq, Alam missing Abdul Razzaq was not utilised at all in the first half of the match raising concerns that the player’s fitness level may not be 100 per cent Afridi, himself, looked severely under pressure and unable to cope with the demands of captaincy and the unspoken chant of taking wickets at regular intervals — a ritual of sorts in England last year - seemed to add weight on his shoulders.
The role of Fawad Alam remains undefined as bar a catch and a few stops in the field, the left-handed all-rounder remained a mere spectator with neither his handy spin being utilised nor his useful habit of rotating strike. Ajmal’s late introduction And Afridi’s persistence to hold back Saeed Ajmal, his trump card against Australia, until the later overs seemed to backfire and leave followers bewildered. Ajmal grabbed three but by then, Shane Watson and David Hussey had tore Pakistan apart via a brutal stroke-play. Salman Butt, after much praise and runs was back to his usual self.
The droppingcatches syndrome caught up against Australia and his shotselection rounded off a normal, unwelcomed, day in the office. The younger Akmal kept up his gradual decline in international cricket and despite Afridi’s brief cameo, all was lost for Pakistan even before his arrival to the crease. Pakistan are left praying for an Australian win against Bangladesh on Wednesday otherwise their title defence could well be over.
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