ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
New Zealand v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Pallekele
'Don't think we should panic' - Waqar
March 9, 2011
Waqar Younis did well to appear considerably composed and calm after a thumping defeat that revealed the true fragility of Pakistan's challenge in this World Cup. Pakistan's coach even played along with a couple of Kamran Akmal jokes, of which there were many.
He has seen days like this in his own time, days when Pakistan unravel so swiftly and so completely, everyone feels like a fool for thinking, hey, they're looking good as a unit. But there is something about Waqar these days, a thoughtfulness and patience even, not apparent in his early, brasher years, which might just hold them in good stead over the next couple of days.
There was much appreciation of an incredible innings from Ross Taylor and a noble attempt to deflect blame from Akmal, a man least in need of avoiding blame. Shahid Afridi, at around the same time, was telling a Pakistani channel that Umar Akmal may be used as a wicketkeeper in forthcoming games. But the core message was that they need not become despondent yet.
"We are not going to panic here," Waqar said. "That's the important thing because if we panic here we're really going to struggle in this tournament. There are still big games to come, we've got Australia to handle and then we've got a quarter-final if we get there, so I don't think we should panic about it. We had a bad day. We should stop here and look forward."
The sense early on in the game was clear: some days Pakistan turn up and some days they don't. This was one of those when they didn't. Shoaib Akhtar bowled no-balls, there were wides and overthrows and misfields. The energy that had been apparent in the field in three games was considerably down and slipped further with each Akmal fumble. Afridi seemed irate, distracted.
Ahmed Shehzad, usually the bounciest in the field, was invisible, weighed down, no doubt, by three failures with the bat. The sun - this was the first time Pakistan had fielded during the day - seemed to drain them. Shehzad's form, and partnership with Mohammad Hafeez, is now officially under the scanner. In four games, the pair have put on 11, 28, 16 and now 5.
"We've got five days to recover from this defeat, it's a big defeat," Waqar said. "We've got to sit down and start talking rather than practicing because it's not on. We need to really start delivering when you talk about the opening slot, even if we have to make any changes. We might do that, yes, because it's been a worry for the Pakistan team for the last couple of matches that the opening has really not given a decent start, and that's why we are suffering."
No doubt Waqar will also bring his own considerable expertise of bowling at the death to bear now, in the harsh light of an assault that saw 100 runs given away in five, scarcely believable overs. New Zealand's timing of the batting Powerplay was cunning, forcing Afridi to bowl out himself and Umar Gul, their best bowler on the day. But Waqar would still have expected more from Shoaib and Abdul Razzaq than the buffet of thigh and waist-high full tosses they eventually served up.
"The drops were a big turning point, without a doubt," he said. "To give chances to somebody like Ross Taylor, who's a top player in their side, two chances in three balls really cost us, but we bowled poorly also in the end. A couple of overs from Shoaib and Razzaq really, 50-60 runs in two overs and you don't expect to win after that. We didn't bowl at the right areas where we needed to bowl in the block hole and with more variations, slower ones."
They are in trouble, but only if they stay as defensive as they have done so far. "We have five days to recover and think about it and don't do the mistakes which we did in this game. The tournament is still wide open, we started well and won three games. I don't think we should worry that much that we are not going to qualify for the quarterfinals but definitely we want to get some of the momentum from here on and make sure we win the rest of our games."