Pakistan's 5 deadly mistakes in the Semifinal against India
The India vs Pakistan Semifinal dubbed as the ‘Mother of All Cricket matches’ ended without any war like incidents in it. No Gaali Gaalauz, no physical confrontation and no sledging;only pure cricketing entertainment. The match wasn’t a nail biting thriller but a good game of cricket which India won by 29 runs. Pakistan had its chance after limiting India to 260 but faltered badly to cope with the pressure and lost the game. The defeat margin of only 29 runs indicates that Pakistan could have won the match if it had not committed some mistakes. Things could have been done differently but a billion Indians’ wishes forced Pakistan to commit five deadly mistakes that cost it the chance to play the Final of the World Cup.
Pakistan forgot the old saying “Catches win you matches”
Dropping world’s best batsman for not once, twice or thrice but four times in a single match couldn’t have helped the Pakistan. Fielding was never Pakistan’s strength. Compensating the runs given away by poor fielding with good bowling has been Pakistan’s strategy. But in a semi final stage, one would expect at least basic level of fielding skills from the players. Dropping easy catches never helps a side’s cause. It was the same for Pakistan yesterday. Sachin first dropped at 27 went on to score a scratchy 85 thanks to three more chances he got mid way.
Afridi couldn’t put the pressure when the Indians were down.
Yes, Pakistani bowlers bowled superb even if their strike bowler Umar Gul was off colour yesterday. But it could have done more to expose the vulnerability of the Indian batting. When Indian batting was suspected to be undergoing a sudden collapse (like in a few matches in the recent past) after Wahab Riaz struck 2 in 2 and got successful Yuvraj for duck, the captain Afridi could have gone for the kill by experimenting with the field setting and going for an attacking set up. Afridi was the only captain in the match who had read the pitch well that there was spin in the pitch. But he couldn’t go that extra mile as a captain to design an aggressive field to assist his spinners. When Indians were down he could have gone with at least one slip in place. In that phase of the innings, India managed to get easy singles and stabilised the innings being aided by a spread up field.
Mohammad Hafeez‘s ‘Game Changing Shot’
This was the beginning of the end of Pakistani innings. In a crunch game like a semifinal, you need a good start while your task is to chase with a 5+ required rate. Akmal and Hafeez did give Pakistan a good start. But after Akmal got out, Hafeez needed to play sensibly, but he had failed to do so. Dhoni’s tight field setting marred his case further as he couldn’t find singles to rotate the strike. His restlessness was visible on his face and then he made the blunder. He played a strange shot under those circumstances. Trying a scoop when a ball was on outside off stump was counter-productive. It seemed like he tried to innovate a ‘game changing shot’. Perhaps he had a secret desire to feature in the Pepsi Change the Game Ads. Pakistan moved to phase of shock and couldn’t revive after that.
Confusion with Batting Powerplay
With required rate increasing with one over after another and the match coming to end with a loss in sight, Pakistan couldn’t take a calculative risk to revamp their hopes to play the final. When Afridi came in to bat in the 37th over, Pakistan was 150-6 and Pakistan was on its way out of the world cup. Afridi looked good and played some good looking shot. It was time to take the risk and take the batting powerplay because there was no batsman left to bat after him in the line up who could have utilised the powerplay. Misbah on the other end was hopeless. Afridi got out after coming to pressure thanks to attacking field set by Indian captain (which Afridi didn’t when Pak was bowling) and departed in the 42nd over without bettering the run rate.
Misbah’s late fury: Too little, Too Late
Misbah’s batting was the most strange thing yesterday. For most part of the innings his strike rate was around 50-60. And when every recognised batsman was back in pavilion and powerplay was finally taken, he tried to shift gears. With match out of reach at that moment, the Misbah late fury only helped him to better his strike rate to 73 and decrease the defeat margin.
India used its chances well and Pakistan messed up with its chances. The result was clear: India beat Pakistan
convincingly. Afridi who had been exceptional in this world cup having performed well and led from the front against all odds, he had managed a batting weak team to the semifinal. Not having many experienced cricketing brains in his side, he led a lone battle along with his devil youngsters and won many hearts through out the tournament. His sincere apology to fans of his country was moving considering Pakistan’s problems in the world cricket.
Pakistan must have realised its mistake by now after a thorough analysis of its last night performance. But at the end of the day, Pakistan was beaten by the deserving finalists of the world cup. Pakistan team must go back to their home with satisfaction and Pakistan fans should also welcome their semifinalist team with enthusiasm and fanfare.