Pakistan’s T20 World Cup Exit: A Shocking Show of Fear

The Pakistan cricket team regularly collapses, losing from a winning position, but difficult is hardly the term that comes to our mind when thinking about them.

The Pakistan cricket team regularly collapses, losing from a winning position, but difficult is hardly the term that comes to our mind when thinking about them.

It’s a team that never fails to amaze, the opposition is always on the lookout for a surprise turn of events, whether it’s a cameo or a magnificent display of bowling magic. Pakistan has reached the most ICC T20 World Cup finals (England is joint highest with three), winning the tournament in 2009.

Over the years, they have been associated with mercurial, street-smart players with flair who were also inconsistent and annoyingly cranky. But is it dull? Never.

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Pakistan’s premature departure from the ICC T20 World Cup was expected. The cricket world is coming to terms with Babar Azam’s team’s listlessness and timidity in their two Group A defeats, which resulted in their elimination.

T20 cricket is all about playing freely, thus it was unusual to see Pakistan players fearful even against an inexperienced side like the USA, as evidenced by their Super Over loss to the co-hosts.

For all of his skill and expertise, fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who has sized up the best in all circumstances, produced an unusual Super Over, gifting wides down the leg side. In contrast, USA pacer Saurabh Netravalkar, who was playing in the most high-profile game of his career at the time, remained calm and focused.

Pakistan’s Poor Performance Leads to Shocking Elimination

Pakistan's Poor Performance Leads to Shocking Elimination
Azam Khan (Source: Getty Images)

Pakistan also suffered a humiliating defeat in the field. To end with 18 runs, USA batters Aaron Jones and Harmeet Singh took advantage of their sloppiness by running several byes, including a bye on three balls. Against India, despite their bowlers having gone through the top and middle orders, their fielding became a source of fun for the crowd. Nothing captured it better than when the camera panned to India’s dugout in the nineteenth over. Even with his team nine wickets behind, skipper Rohit Sharma smiled at the comedy of errors as Pakistan fielders twice conceded overthrows to Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh, the last two wickets.

Pakistan’s Gary Kirsten era has begun off to a terrible start. After taking over the white-ball squad less than two weeks before the T20 World Cup, he cut a troubled figure in the dugout, seeing his team stutter and slide out of the competition. After the Ireland match was cancelled on Friday, the previous edition’s runners-up were formally eliminated from the tournament. This is Pakistan’s second consecutive group-stage exit from ICC competitions. They were also eliminated from the group stage of last year’s ODI World Cup in India. Pakistan was eliminated from the T20 World Cup for the first time after only three games.

Coach Kirsten has difficult decisions to make, beginning with the leadership. Captain Babar Azam could not persuade himself or his team to abandon the conservative strategy. The cricket his team played was out of date.

The surfaces in New York were challenging for batting, but what happened in Dallas was plain bad cricket. On a quality surface, Pakistan struggled to a 159 against the United States. Babar was the leading scorer with 44, but his strike rate of 102.33 did not help. It revealed their lack of preparation, with no warm-up games to assist them adapt.

Overall, their batting lacked the explosive force required for a T20 lineup. Both openers are under the spotlight. Kirsten will look at their total SRs: Babar’s is 129.46 after 122 T20Is, and Mohammed Rizwan’s is 126.57 after 101. They required an enforcer who could put the bowlers under pressure with a flashy cameo. Iftikhar Ahmed was a letdown. In the Super Over against the USA, he was unable to connect with Netravalkar, consuming three balls to score four runs. In the high-pressure game against India, he appeared to be overtaken by stage fright during his blistering stay of 9 balls for only 5 runs. His overall strikeout rate is just 129.11.

Their bowling is similarly at fault. Despite their talent, they were unable to put the USA’s batting under strain while defending a score of 159. It was unacceptable for a fast-paced unit consisting of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Amir, and Haris Rauf to take only three wickets from an inexperienced lineup.

The T20 World Cup format provides the best opportunity for established teams to qualify for the Super 8. In a five-team pool, even a single shock loss allows you to catch up. If you still don’t make it, you can’t blame anyone else. Pakistan must accept this difficult reality.