Where Did It All Go Wrong for Pakistan at the 2014 World T20?
Pakistan exited the 2014 International Cricket Council World Twenty20 (T20) in dismal style on Tuesday following a thumping 84-run defeat to the holders West Indies in their final Group 2 contest in Dhaka.
And so we now look back on the events of the past 10 days in Bangladesh to try to understand just where exactly it all went so terribly wrong for Mohammad Hafeez’s men, whom many experts had tipped to win the competition...
Pakistan have been carrying too many out-of-form players during the course of the tournament to have ever really convinced as potential world champions.
True, Pakistan being the side they are, you can never write them off, however badly they are performing as a team or individually—just think back to the 1992 World Cup for starters—but apart from their impressive win over Australia in their second group-phase contest, one never got the impression they had the men capable of claiming a second World T20 title.
And in particular, the selection of players such as Sohaib Maqsood, Bilawal Bhatti and experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik, who for some unexplained reason failed to bowl a single ball in the entire competition, must now be questioned.
A Not so Fantastic Captain
Mohammad Hafeez has by all accounts proved himself to be if not an inspirational T20 captain for Pakistan, then at least a safe pair of hands and a steadying influence with which to guide what can at times be a rocky ship.
And in many ways, that is exactly the type of leader his country has been crying out for, although in this tournament, Pakistan have also been in desperate need for the all-rounder to lead by example with bat and ball.
Unfortunately, though, Hafeez has been unable to respond in kind, a handicap which has badly affected his side’s chances of victory with the skipper not only opening the bowling with his gentle off-breaks, but also occupying the key No. 3 role in the batting order.
However, with a top score to his name of just 19 and the capture of only one wicket as well, both of which did not arrive until the final Group 2 showdown with West Indies either, the 33-year-old has sadly proved himself more a hindrance than a help to Pakistan in this World T20.
Our Captain Mohammad Hafeez scored 55 runs in 4 matches at an avg of 13.75 runs per match #WT20— Mansoor Ali Khan (@MansoorGeoNews) April 1, 2014
Mystery Duo Not so Secretive Anymore
The experienced Pakistan duo of Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal (pictured) would walk into any T20 side in the world, with both bowlers having represented their country in this shorter form of the game since 2007 and 2009, respectively, while they also played key roles in helping to win the World Cup in England five years ago.
However, it is fair to say that neither the brilliant reverse-swing paceman or the wily off-spinner have been able to turn the game Pakistan’s way when asked to do so, especially in the two critical group-phase losses to India and West Indies.
And none more so than in Pakistan’s final must-win contest with the holders when Gul sent down two wicketless overs for a whopping 29 runs, just at a time when his captain most needed some control in the field, while Ajmal did not fare much better either after being taken for 41 runs without a wicket from his full allocation of overs.
Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal gave 22 and 24 runs in their last overs consecutively! Sammy and Bravo are dealing in... http://t.co/8GlpRe9bv6— Cricket Knock (@CricKnock) April 1, 2014
Spinning out of Control in Dhaka
Pakistan’s attempts to chase down the 167 runs they needed to beat West Indies and qualify for the semi-finals in Dhaka on Tuesday was characterised by some brainless top-order batting that saw them reduced at one point to 42 for six and that ultimately resulted in them being dismissed for just 82 from 17.5 overs.
However, anyone who also saw their opening Group 2 loss to archrivals India would not have been that surprised to witness their subsequent collapse against the holders’ spin twins of Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, who between them returned stunning figures of six for 26 from their eight overs as Pakistan’s Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 all found themselves stumped off the tweakers.
Meanwhile, against MS Dhoni’s men last weekend, it was the turn of both Amit Mishra (three for 26) and Ravindra Jadeja (one for 18) to stymie the Pakistan innings and help set India a victory target of just 131, which in the end they cruised to in only 18.3 overs.
So despite being brought up in subcontinental conditions, there is no denying the fact that Pakistan’s top-order batsmen have generally struggled against the turning ball throughout this competition in Bangladesh and in particular in their two key group losses to India and West Indies that have cost them a place in the semi-finals.
Time to Collectively Look in the Mirror
Looking back now in the cold light of day, no doubt Pakistan coach Moin Khan will reflect on a number of things that he and his team could have done differently in this World T20, although hindsight is always a wonderful gift to have.
Sure, the side was carrying a number of out-of-form players, and in that regard, perhaps Moin could have made changes to the line-up earlier than he did, especially the much-needed introduction of left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir.
While they were also unlucky when it came to calling correctly at the toss, which Hafeez managed to do on only one occasion in the whole competition, in the end, Pakistan did end up batting first in all four group-stage matches just as they prefer to.
i saw misbah playing for faisalabad wolves and he looked at home. pakistan needed him to walk in at number four and calm things down— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 1, 2014
So ultimately, one of the pre-tournament favourites have only themselves to blame for their premature exit, with a combination of glaring weaknesses against high-quality spin bowling, star players not at the peak of their powers, an uninspired captain and at times the wrong personnel all contributing to their failure in Bangladesh.