'Shahid Afridi was neither able to bowl nor bat' - Aamer Sohail hits out at 1999 WC selection

Aamer Sohail questioned the frequent chopping and changing in the Pakistan team in the 1999 World Cup
Aamer Sohail questioned the frequent chopping and changing in the Pakistan team in the 1999 World Cup
Kartik Iyer

Former Pakistan captain Aamer Sohail recently attributed the country's loss in the 1999 World Cup final to the instability in the team. He also questioned the role of Shahid Afridi in the Pakistan lineup during that World Cup.

Aamer Sohail analysed the reasons for Pakistan's inability to win the 1999 World Cup on his YouTube channel.

The left-handed opening batsman mentioned that the biggest reason for Pakistan's loss was the inconsistency of selection and frequent changes in the batting order.

"From the first game onwards if you see the scorecards, you will observe frequent changes in the batting order and they didn't persist with the players."

Aamer Sohail questioned why Mohammad Yousuf was not given a consistent run in the middle order even though he was performing well.

"Mohammad Yousuf was scoring in the middle order in the 1999 World Cup, but he was in and out of the team. If you see the scorecard of the whole World Cup, it is clear that the middle order was not clicking."

Aamer Sohail pointed out that with Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq not being in great form, it was imperative for Pakistan to have played an in-form Yousuf in the middle order.

"Ijaz Ahmed was struggling, even Inzamam had scored in 2 or 3 matches but when we went into the Super 8s, he didn't score much in those matches. I think he scored 41 against India and 80-odd against Australia."
"So Ijaz and Inzamam, on whom you were relying, were not enjoying a good run of form. Because your middle order was not performing well, you should have consistently played Mohammad Yousuf if he was doing well."

Aamer Sohail on the decision to bat first after winning the toss

Aamer Sohail expressed disagreement with Wasim Akram's decision to bat first
Aamer Sohail expressed disagreement with Wasim Akram's decision to bat first

Aamer Sohail expressed surprise at Wasim Akram's decision of opting to bat first on a damp Lord's pitch in the final.

"Before the World Cup final, there were reports that it had rained a lot in London. As it is, there is a slope at Lord's due to which the ball does something all the time."

Aamer Sohail revealed that Salim Malik had told him that the latter had even requested Wasim Akram not to bat first after winning the toss, something the Pakistan captain had agreed to as well.

"Salim Malik told me that he had requested Wasim Akram not to bat first after winning the toss else we would be in great difficulty. We should not have exposed our batsmen on a difficult pitch against a confident Australian bowling lineup."
"Salim Malik told me that Wasim Akram had said that we would definitely bowl first after winning the toss. Because our bowling was doing well at that time, we could have restricted the opposition to a low total and lifted the confidence of our batsmen."

Aamer Sohail observed that contrary to everyone's expectations Wasim Akram had chosen to bat first after winning the toss, a mistake that dealt a huge blow to Pakistan's aspirations.

"But when the toss happened, everyone was surprised how we could bat first with such a batting lineup. So that was a huge tactical mistake and you can see what happened after winning the toss and batting first. The moment the openers were dismissed, it was a struggle."

Aamer Sohail added that when Salim Malik had asked the Pakistan captain why he had chosen to bat first, he responded that it was because of Imran Khan's prior advice of batting first to avoid the pressure of a chase.

"Salim Malik told me that when he asked Wasim why he chose to bat first, he replied that Imran Khan had mentioned that there is always pressure of runs on the board. The thing is you should have exploited the available conditions."

Aamer Sohail observed that the selection of Shahid Afridi had proved counterproductive as he was a failure with both the bat and the ball.

"One more thing was when I was captain in 1998, we had decided with the selectors that we should have regular openers for the World Cup who can stay at the wicket and play out the new ball."
"Unfortunately you opted for Shahid Afridi, he had ability on flat low-bouncing tracks where he would take on the bowlers and bring the opposition under pressure."

Aamer Sohail opined that he would have opted for Mohammad Yousuf ahead of the big-hitting all-rounder.

"But in demanding conditions, that is a big gamble. He was neither able to bowl nor able to bat. If I was the captain instead of Wasim Akram, I would have preferred Mohammad Yousuf."

Aamer Sohail disclosed that the Pakistan team was also not sure of their lineup before the final encounter, with changes being made at the last minute.

"Salim Malik even told me that one day before the final he had asked Wasim Akram if he was playing the match or not so that he could prepare accordingly but he was not told. Mohammad Yousuf was told on the match day that he would be playing but even he was not played."

Aamer Sohail concluded that Pakistan lost the 1999 World Cup final due to erroneous team selection and the decision to bat first in seamer-friendly conditions.

"So, according to me there were two reasons for your loss at the World Cup. One was your team combination was not correct at all and the other that you opted to bat after winning the toss when you knew that it had been pelting down in London."

Aamer Sohail signed off by stating that the Pakistan team had played the entire 1999 World Cup like a neighbourhood team, that was not a settled outfit.

"From my cricketing experience and my observation I can say that we played the entire World Cup like a locality team. We had one lineup in a match and a different lineup in the next match with changing batting orders."

Pakistan were bowled out for 132 runs in the 1999 World final, with Australia going on to register an easy 8-wicket victory with almost 30 overs to spare.

Edited by Sai Krishna
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