'You remain our pride': Pakistanis heartbroken, yet full of praise for Green Shirts after semi-final defeat
Australia's Matthew Wade crashed Pakistan's hopes of making it to the Twenty20 World Cup final, smashing three successive sixes off Shaheen Afridi in the penultimate over and leading his team to a five-wicket victory in Dubai on Thursday.
While half-centuries by in-form Mohammad Rizwan (67) and Fakhar Zaman (55 not out) helped Pakistan reach a formidable 176-4 in the first innings, Wade's power-hitting cruised Australia to 177-5 with an over to spare.
Pakistan had their chance but Hasan Ali dropped a regulation catch of the left-hander Wade at mid-wicket just before Afridi was hit for three sixes.
Though disappointed with the dropped catch, fans back home commended the Pakistan side for performing beyond their expectations and making it to the semi-finals unbeaten.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman (PCB) Ramiz Raja said the team had "truly united the land and refreshed its mood with promise".
"We thank you and we are proud of the way you fought. Well done boys," he said.
Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar — who has been avidly following the T20 World Cup — thanked the Green shirts for a great tournament.
He also tacked on a "we still love you" for good measure.
Education Minister Shafqat Ali dubbed it an "exciting semi-final". According to the minister, Pakistan played well but was "unlucky".
"Hasan's catch drop turned the tables. Happens in the game. But all praise for the Pakistan team for having a great tournament. Brought Pakistan back on the cricketing map," he said.
President Arif Alvi lauded the team for playing well and congratulated the Kangaroos for qualifying for the finals. "A good game of cricket," he said.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif congratulated the team for "playing brilliantly" throughout the tournament.
Left-arm fast-bowler Wahab Riaz said that it was a "tough day for our team but they've made us all very proud with their outstanding effort and a memorable run in this mega event".
"Heads up guys until next time," he said.
Cricket journalist Alia Rasheed boosted the team's morale, saying that they had been "superb" throughout their journey in the tournament.
"Well played young boys. No worries, you have been superb," she tweeted.
Singer Asim Azhar also lauded the Green Shirts for their performance in the tournament.
"I am so so so proud of the way these boys have played [in] this world cup. What a team, what a journey. Just not our day. The boys deserve your love and support [and] nothing else. This is a new era of Pakistan cricket," he tweeted.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid congratulated the team for its performance in the tournament but conceded that it was lacking in the semi-final.
"We are so grateful for your outstanding efforts and bringing happiness on the faces of 220 million Pakistanis during the last four weeks," he said.
Singer Ali Zafar said that he was proud of the team and deserved a "heroic" welcome back.
"The professionalism and spirit with which they played speaks volumes of what’s coming in the future for Pakistan cricket. Also must say, Australia, that was a hell of a knock and those two sweeps! Wow!" he said.
Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir, too, commended the Pakistan side for their "spectacular campaign".
"Well played boys in green. You are our pride you remain our pride ... It was a spectacular campaign by team Pakistan . Thank you for all the joys, excitement and memories this T20 World Cup."
Meanwhile, sports journalist Faizan Lakhani credited Australia for holding their nerves and proving to be mentally stronger than a "side that had everything in its favour".
His views resonated with those of cricket writer Saj Sadiq, who praised Australia for being "mentally so tough".
"Even when the opposition has the upper hand, they find a way back into the match."
Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi said Pakistan losing the match was "hard luck", but expressed disappointment at Hasan Ali dropping a catch in a crucial over.
"Can’t expect to win if you’re going to a drop a sitter in the penultimate over but then that’s cricket! Hard luck," he tweeted.
Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle also seemed dismayed by Pakistan's defeat, tweeting: "You would have thought that if one team could make 176 look enough, it was Pakistan."
"But this Australian team has just got better and better as the tournament has progressed," he added.
Header image: Pakistan's cricketers leave the field at the end of the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-final match against Australia at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. — AFP