Azhar rues lost momentum
Azhar Ali, the Pakistan captain, has said his team lost grip of the third and final ODI when he and Haris Sohail got out during the batting Powerplay. But he conceded that Bangladesh played the better cricket blank out Pakistan in the three-match series.
"We were going quite nicely till the 40th over when Sohail got out," Azhar said. "We lost the momentum of the innings which I think was the turning point. We should have scored nearly 300 or more. I think the last 12 overs were very disappointing. We didn't make runs, and lost eight wickets."
"Before the series started, we knew Bangladesh were an improved side. They did well in the World Cup. They were doing very well in their home soil, gave tough time to the opposition. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. As Pakistan team, we didn't play enough good cricket."
Azhar had reached his maiden ODI century in the 38th over, becoming the first Pakistan captain since Shahid Afridi in 2010 to score a hundred. In the next over, however, he got out trying to cut Shakib Al Hasan. This broke a 98-run third-wicket partnership, a stand that had given the visitors a chance to make their first big score of the series. But soon after Azhar got out, Sohail hoicked across the line and was easily caught by Mushfiqur Rahim. He made 52 off 58 balls with a four and two sixes, but his exit opened the gate for Bangladesh.
Azhar, who was made captain in place of Misbah-ul-Haq after the latter had exited following a four-year stint as captain, said that he didn't feel much joy getting to the hundred as they ultimately lost the game. He took the responsibility for the loss, saying that the coaching staff can only tell them what to do.
"Personal performance is not that much enjoyable when you don't win, " he said. "I am really disappointed that my innings couldn't make my team win. As a captain I feel responsible for not performing. You would be told how to play but you have to apply it in the middle. We will have to take responsibilities for the performance."
Azhar defended Mohammad Hafeez, who made eight runs in the three matches, before adding that Sarfraz Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal were not dropped but rested. "Hafeez couldn't perform as a batsman. He didn't make runs. He has been playing well in the last few years. Everyone can have a bad series, it was just one of those series," he said.
"They (Sarfraz and Ajmal) were rested, not dropped," he said. "We had already lost the series. We went to the field to win. Sarfraz is the vice-captain but we decided together that we should give Sami Aslam a chance. He played quite well. Saeed bhai was also rested. It had nothing to do with his performance."
Once again, he asked for time for the team to gel together and perform as a unit. "This is a totally new combination from the one that played at the World Cup," Azhar said. "They played together for a few years. After every World Cup there are few changes. It is difficult but we have to keep our heads up. We have to put everything in the right place. We know we got the talent, but we need to get things together."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84