NOTTINGHAM: I know our fans will be disappointed with the manner in which we played in our World Cup opener against the West Indies on Friday.
We are hurt too as no one wants to lose a World Cup match like that. All those who have played this great game will vouch the pain the players undergo following such an ordinary performance.
What went wrong? I can say a number of things, but by stating those facts I will not try to hide behind excuses.
To begin with, the starting time was very crucial. A 10:30 start made the toss very important. We too wanted to bowl first but toss is never in your control. I lost it and the West Indies, like any other team would have done, sent us into bat.
We always expected it to be a hard game. We were ready for a barrage of short pitch balls and had prepared for it. But, we lost too many wickets up front that pegged us back.
I would pinpoint Andre Russell’s two wickets of Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail. That shook us in the Powerplay and when you lose three top-order wickets in the first ten overs, it going gets tougher.
I think our shot selection was not good and we lost a number of batsman to short pitch deliveries.
The other main thing that contributed to the batting’s downfall was our failure to build partnerships. I think the highest partnership of the innings was for the last wicket, which produced 22 runs.
Fakhar and Babar had good starts and they were playing their shots. Unfortunately, Fakhar was bowled off an inside edge and Babar had a very soft dismissal. Its always important at any level of cricket to capitalise on good starts, which the two couldn’t do.
I also want to negate the impression that it was a 400-plus pitch or the one on which England had piled a world record of 481 runs last year. No, this was a fresh pitch and it was sticky. The ball was stopping on it. Because of the day match, there was moisture on it. If you remember we scored 340 batting first on this same venue against England in the fourth ODI because it was a late start and there was no moisture and the ball was properly coming onto the bat.
Why we did not play Asif Ali? It was because we wanted to play with full batsmen and bowlers — five bowlers and six batsmen — with Mohammad Hafeez our off-spinner who we wanted to use against their left-handers.
I think our bowlers, particularly Mohammad Amir, bowled well. It was good to have Amir back in form. We know what he is capable of and it will be good for us in the next matches as well. After we were bowled out for 105, our target was to get wickets and West Indies countered that by playing big shots. They released the pressure by hitting big and that happens.
Despite the defeat, I am confident that we have the ability to bounce back. We have to back ourselves and not think too much about what happened in the first game.
That match is gone, we have the type of players who can win the next match for us. Insha’Allah, we will bounce back in the next matches. All matches will be tough, so we need to regroup ourselves and come hard in the next match. The format of this tournament is good and it allows every team to bounce back. I will tell the boys not to think too much of what has happened. It’s gone, we have to move forward with a resolve that we can do better than this.
England are a tough team but we have played them in a series recently. So, all we need is to play at our potential and come up with a win.
I am sure you will see a good show from us in the next game.
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2019