Pakistan captain Babar Azam is proud of his team’s rollercoaster run in the Twenty20 World Cup and believes the injury to pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi cost them victory in Sunday’s final against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Having begun their campaign with defeats by India and Zimbabwe, the 2009 champions looked set to exit the tournament but still made the semi-finals after the Netherlands did them a huge favour by pulling off an upset win against South Africa.
Pakistan strung together four victories on the trot to make the final but managed a meagre 137-8 on Sunday after being put in to bat on a tricky track.
Their lion-hearted bowlers reduced England to 45-3 in the sixth over but Afridi hurt his right knee in the 13th over when taking the catch at long off to dismiss Harry Brook.
“We were probably 20 runs short with the bat but we started well with the ball in the first six overs and made a comeback in the middle overs,” Babar told reporters after their five-wicket defeat.
“Unfortunately, Shaheen got injured and that shifted the match in England’s favour. It could have been a different result but for Shaheen’s injury,”
Afridi, whose two-over spell of 13-1 included the wicket of England’s in-form opener Alex Hales, returned to the field after getting treatment but could bowl only one delivery before hobbling off.
Spinner Iftikhar Ahmed stepped in to complete the over and was hit for a six and a four by Ben Stokes which eased the pressure on England.
Babar was happy with how Pakistan returned from the brink of elimination to reach the final.
“We did not start well but we grabbed our opportunity and won four matches,” he said.
“It’s always sad to reach the final and not win, and we had the same outcome in the Asia Cup. But of course, we are proud we made the final,”
The opener felt they were sluggish in the middle overs and eventually settled for a below-par total.
“We were going steady in the first 11 overs but losing back-to-back wickets robbed us of momentum,”
“We played a lot of dot balls because our set batsmen got out and it was not easy for a new batter coming in. They needed two to three balls to settle and that forced us onto the back foot,”
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