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October 1, 2012

Twenty20 World Cup 2012

Pakistan lose bottle for Kohli's vintage

Kamran Abbasi
Mohammad Hafeez is bowled, India v Pakistan, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo, September 30, 2012
Defence rarely suits Pakistan's nature, yet Mohammad Hafeez took backward steps at critical moments in the match against India  © Associated Press
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The heat was high in Colombo but Pakistan froze. In a game in which they had too less to lose, and India started poorly, Pakistan were never relaxed. India, as has become the way in these encounters, played with self-belief that once belonged to Pakistan when facing their neighbours. The psychological balance shifted many years ago--it might have been Sachin Tendulkar's six off Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup that was the trigger--and India look unlikely to give it up.

Why should they? Such booty has to be seized, it is rarely surrendered. In this game, where the strength of India's bowling seemed innocuous and the bounty of psychological advantage was for looting, Pakistan were positive on paper but inhibited in execution. Supporters rarely forgive defeat to India. They resent it more when a white flag is raised upon first sight of the enemy.

Pakistan's plan was a brave one. Win the toss and bat first, put India's bowlers to the sword. Promote Shahid Afridi to number 3, where he can cause maximum damage early in an innings and reacquaint himself with Irfan Pathan. Back your spinners, even young Raza Hasan, to outfox India's superior batsmen. But these were empty gestures, orders carried out with a reluctant heart. Captain Mohammad Hafeez, a professor with a weighty assignment, was a victim of the moment. When a leader should lead, Hafeez was dragged to oblivion by the gravity of the situation.

Defence rarely suits Pakistan's nature, yet Hafeez took backward steps at two critical moments. First, his decision to prod and poke his way through the Powerplay overs killed the tempo of Pakistan's innings. India's bowlers were decent, nothing more. The captain's reserve sent the wrong signal to his men. It spoke of nervousness, a fear of the occasion.

The innings never recovered and left India with almost nothing to do for victory. Still, Pakistan's only chance was to attack. Hafeez began brightly, posting a slip and encouraging his men. But too quickly Pakistan were on the defensive again. Close catchers were disposed of within the Powerplay when Pakistan required wickets. The field was dispersed upon the end of the Powerplay when Pakistan could least afford such easy runs.

Hafeez's body language and decision-making was of a man resigned to the punishment of Virat Kohli's blade. The Professor was calculating run rates, scheming for future examinations, while Kohli dealt expertly with the here and now. Such high art was unnecessary from Kohli, Pakistan weren't a pretty picture in this match. It was a collective failure, an abject surrender.

The worry for Dav Whatmore will be that his team's performance level has dropped with each game. The players need to be re-energised and re-focused. Inhibition against India must give way to aggression against Australia. Hafeez must come out of his shell, put away his introspection. And some hard decisions are required. Yasir Arafat's all-round struggles should give way to Abdul Razzaq. The batting order requires a dependable batsman for others to play around, which means Asad Shafiq in place of Shoaib Malik or Imran Nazir. The final necessity is for Umar Akmal, Pakistan's most assured batsman in this World Cup, to bat up the order.

All these changes are unlikely but Pakistan must act because such lame surrenders, as the one against India, are echoes of a troubled age.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mubasher fan of Afridi on (October 6, 2012, 7:16 GMT)

very well written blog Mr. Abbasi as always. if pakistan select Ahmed Shehzad a much better & accomplished prospect compare to Imran Nazir dangerous but highly unpredictable. had wahab Riaz been selected in place of patchy & shaky Sami, Junaid khan in place of average Yasir Arfat who can't be called a match winner, pakistan would have ideally fit to beat India. had management decided to try out Afridi on no.3 spot in the whole tournament along with Nasir opening with kamran akmal & Hafeez batting lower down the order pakistan could easily made it to finals of the T20 world cup which unfortunately didn't happen. i would also like to add one thing here that Afridi was ideally no.1 choice to lead pakistan in this world cup instead of slow, patchy & feared Hafeez.

Posted by manojkumar on (October 5, 2012, 11:49 GMT)

wel playrd india..but the thing was there was not enough on board against sa..pak nd aus to be ruled out from t20 wc..they both played an gambling cricket to put india out..

Posted by Ramesh jayaganesh on (October 5, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

I clearly don't understand how a coach of dave whatmore stature could celebrate winning a practice game,he should take a clue from gary kirsten who just raised his arms in joy after india winning the worl cup.

Posted by Moodhi on (October 4, 2012, 18:35 GMT)

All top cricket playing countries are good with some really talented players. It all depends on how you play on the day, under conditions and most of all how you handle the pressure. All of those who are mentioning figures such India 8 Pakistan 0 in worldcups can they really say that India are unbeatable and Pakistan can never beat them ? that would just be childish. The fact is Pakistan being such a talented side are the worst to handle pressure. Good Luck West Indies, as they too deserve to win especially as in their days they were almost unbeatable.

While Indians should learn to have a better friendship with their neighbouring brothers Pakistan unlike Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, very unprofessional of them.

Posted by Sheikh Asfandyar on (October 4, 2012, 13:27 GMT)

For a country denied international cricket at home for a long time and their cricketers unwelcome in the biggest Twenty20 league, it is fascinating to watch the way Pakistan have dominated in Twenty20 cricket. Despite limited opportunities, the green brigade is the most successful team in the format at all the World T20 editions, they have been the team to beat. - Hindustan Times

Posted by Faisal on (October 4, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

Everybody have criticised Pak, n as wel they have given the stats of Ind V Pak in WC, but they forgot to mention the overall stats btwn Ind V Pak where Pak is way ahead and as well I dont give any credit to India at all as compared to Pak, simply becoz everytime Pak have played the tournament, they have at least went to semis, look at India, twice they could not even make the super 8's forget about semis except once. so Pak is better than any other teams, particularly India.

Posted by Kutta singh on (October 4, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

Dear ripppon,

I don't understand how you can say that Pakistan relies on luck. I mean if you play a game the better side wins. That's why they trashed the aussies and they are into the semis.

India didn't do anything at all

Posted by Sanjeev on (October 4, 2012, 11:36 GMT)

India 8-Pakistan 0

at world cups (5 in 50/50; 3 in 20/20)

Posted by sd11 on (October 4, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

what ever you people say abt indian cricket team but Pakistan makes the way towards semis

Posted by haroon on (October 4, 2012, 11:15 GMT)

No matter Pakistan lose or win but India truly played brilliantly they handle the pressure very well,After very bad strt at the end the finished quite decently

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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