Pakistan takes Twenty20 final loss with heavy heart

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Lahore, Sep 25 (UNI) Former captain Intikhab Alam has criticised Misbah-ul Haq's ''stupid shot'' in the last over of the final match of the Twenty20 World Cup, which according to him cost Pakistan the match.

''Misbah-ul Haq's stupid shot at the fag end of the match was responsible for Pakistan's defeat at the hands of India,'' former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam told media yesterday.

''Misbah almost took Pakistan to the jaws of victory but he played a reckless shot that helped India win. There were still three balls left and he should have played sensibly,'' added Alam.

The former Test player also felt that Pakistan made a heavy weather of the chase for themselves and they were to blame for the snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the grand finale.

''Joginder Sharma was the weakest link. Misbah should have tackled him wisely,'' the former Pakistan captain said.

He was of the view that Pakistan's batting line-up was very poor and that led to their defeat in the nail-biting contest. ''I think Shahid Afridi should have opened the innings along with Imran Nazir.

The captain and the coach sent Hafeez instead and Pakistan paid the price.'' Alam, who played 47 Tests and four ODIs for Pakistan, said the team's top order, including captain Shoaib Malik, did not play up to potential. ''They played terrible shots. Look how Younis Khan, Hafeez and Afridi got out.'' Alam heaped praises on the bowlers and said they performed brilliantly throughout the tournament. ''In fact, the bowlers were responsible for leading Pakistan to the final,'' he opined.

The turning point of the match, according to Alam, came when Hafeez dropped the catch of Rohit Sharma. ''Had he taken the catch, the result would have been quite different,'' he said.

Alam showered accolades on the Indian team and said they kept their nerve in the final and never let pressure overcome them, adding that Mahendra Singh Dhoni captained his side very well.

The former Pakistan manager said India won the final with the help of their local coaches. ''There was no foreign coach with the Indian team. India won the 1983 World Cup also with the help of local coaches,'' he concluded.

Even Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik blamed the batsmen for his team's defeat at the hands of India in the see-saw final of the Twenty20 World Cup at the Wanderers in South Africa yesterday. ''We were close to victory, but it was our batting that let us down,'' he told reporters after the match.

He said Pakistan's batting line-up did not come up to the scratch. ''It was an easy target but we failed to race home,'' he added.

He was all praise for the bowlers. ''The bowlers did a tremendous job of restricting India to 157 but we were not able to reach there.'' Malik expressed his disappointment for losing to India for the second successive time in the tournament. ''It was not the result which I was looking forward to. We lost in the league match due to bad luck. But this time it was all because of our poor batting,'' he rued. Even Malik was not tight-fisted while lauding Misbah-ul Haq.

''Misbah played brilliantly, but he could not accomplish the task as he failed to get support from the other end,'' he said.

The captain thanked all the people back home and around the globe for extending support to the game and said the team lost in a decent way after putting in their best.

Lahore in grief A pall of gloom descended over Lahore after the Twenty20 World Cup final loss. An India-Pakistan final was a long-awaited treat for the cricket lovers across the sub-continent. And Yesterday evening had everything in it for the passionate followers, the twists and turns and the traditional thrilling end that glued one's eyes to the TV screens.

Being avid cricket fans for generations, Lahorites came up with their views regarding Pakistan's loss to India. ''After working hard in the field and restricting the opposition below a reasonable target, it was sad to the see the batting display by the middle order. Had they (middle-order batsmen) been there, Pakistan could have won it,'' said Muneeb Ijaz, a student of the Government College University.

''Misbah-ul Haq was as cold as ice but in the end he just threw it away. Heavens only know what was in his mind, it was a nightmare,'' commented Agha Khurram, who runs a tea-stall.

A cricket fan afficianado, Hina Farooq said, ''Pakistan were in rhythm after a long time. We wanted to see them at the top of the world. Though we lost in the end but it was a contest to be remembered.'' ''India had performed quite well under pressure in the previous games, so a tough contest was expected. It was anybody's game till the end. Unfortunately, Pakistan lost it but I am still sure that it is the beginning of the much-needed run of successful performance. I hope Pakistan team will dig it hard next time,'' said Kasim Ali, a student of the National College of Arts.

''Pakistan team still lacks discipline, especially in the batting department. Bowlers did pretty well throughout the tournament, that is a great thing. But one can hope that the 'boys' will improve in the future,'' observed Ahmad Alam, who is an engineer by profession.

Salma Saleem, a mother of three, said the defeat was not easy to digest. ''My children left TV with heavy hearts and it took sometime for us to come out of the shock. Anyhow, it is part of the game.

India made it their day by playing well. Pakistan fought hard but fell short. We can hope that the national team will learn from their mistakes. We wish them best of luck for next time,'' she concluded.

UNI

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