After T20 loss to Australia, Babar backs Hasan to regain form

Published April 7, 2022
LAHORE: Australian players celebrate with the winners trophy after beating Pakistan in the solitary Twenty20 International at the Gaddafi Stadium.—Murtaza Ali/White Star
LAHORE: Australian players celebrate with the winners trophy after beating Pakistan in the solitary Twenty20 International at the Gaddafi Stadium.—Murtaza Ali/White Star

LAHORE: Pakistan captain Babar Azam reckons that pace bowler Hasan Ali is going through a rough patch but everyone in the team is backing him to regain the form that saw him won many matches for the country.

Hasan came under fire after he went wicketless in the one-off T20 International against Australia at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday night as Pakistan succumbed to a three-wicket loss.

Hasan returned for the side for the match, having sat out the last two One-day Internationals against Australia which Pakistan won to clinch the three-match series 2-1.

The T20 game marked the end of Australia’s first tour of Pakistan since 1998, in which the visitors also won the Test series 1-0.

“Hasan is going through a bad patch and needs our support,” Babar told reporters during an online news conference after the match. “We will continue to do so to help him to regain lost touch and confidence.”

Babar said Pakistan got in to the match on several occasions after having posted 162-8 after being put into bat but “some of our top players failed to rise to the occasion”.

“We will give them [players] opportunities as we come up with a balanced combination for the T20 World Cup [in Australia later this year] for which we have time and we will succeed in making the combination for the mega event,” Babar asserted.

He added that he takes the final call to decide the best playing XI for each game.

“But I also consult everyone [concerned] and take the best advice and try to do what is good for the team to enhance its performance,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s low total contributed to the defeat.

“We were a little short,” he said. “We should have maintained the momentum and we should have performed better in fielding and also availed the chances which came our way in the match.”

Babar (66) and Mohammad Rizwan (23) gave Pakistan a fast start — the hosts accumulating 56 in the powerplay — but they couldn’t capitalise in the end.

Babar refused to accept that that his team was under pressure in the match or it lost the encounter because of dew factor at night.

“We could’ve bowled better and we will try to do better in our future assignments,” he said.

Babar, however, was happy with the performance of leg-spinner Usman Qadir who contributed an unbeaten 18 with the bat to push Pakistan’s score above 150 while also picking two wickets with the ball.

“He bowled well … even with the wet ball,” Babar said. “It was a chance for him to cement his place in the side and he did a nice job.”

The game marked the end of Australia’s 38-day tour of Pakistan and their players left for home on Wednesday.

“I think they enjoyed their time here,” Babar said. “They looked very happy during the interactions we had.”

Agencies add: The final match of Australia’s tour, meanwhile, saw their skipper Aaron Finch get his first half-century in 14 matches of cricket’s shortest format as he drove his inexperienced side to victory.

Finch’s 55 runs from 45 balls helped Australia reach their target with five balls to spare and he said he never doubted his batting form would return

“I knew I could play a bit,” the 35-year-old said during an online news conference. “I always had confidence, I always had faith. It’s one of those things that you go through, some lean patches at times. Everyone can seem to panic, and as people get older people panic a little bit quicker.”

Finch was one of only three players from the Australia team that won the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates last year to play in the match after Covid-19 infections, injuries and the resting of players weakened the squad.

Marnus Labuschagne, Ben Dwarshuis and Cameron Green were all awarded their T20 debuts on Tuesday but it was paceman Nathan Ellis who caught the eye in his third match with 4-28.

“Super proud of a relatively inexperienced group, plenty of lessons learned,” said Finch.

Finch’s team will not have long to wait to defend the World Cup with the next edition set to take place in Australia in October and November.

The captain was unconcerned that the hosts have only six T20 internationals lined up before the tournament starts, given the experience in the squad when everyone is available.

“The majority of that group will still be together so we can still talk and strategise,” he said. “I don’t think that that’s going to be a problem.”

As Australia rounded off an incident-free trip with victory, Finch said he had a good time in Pakistan.

“It’s been unbelievable, the spirit from both teams,” said Finch. “It’s been some really good tough cricket but just a wonderful tour to be a part of, to be honest.”

Finch, though, had other reasons to be happy too.

“Glad we don’t have to bowl to Babar any more for a while,” said Australia’s limited-overs captain after his Pakistan counterpart top-scored for the third match running, having struck back-to-back centuries in the last two ODIs.

For Pakistan, there is now renewed optimism that the successful Australian tour will paved the way for England and New Zealand to return after both called off series in Pakistan last year citing unspecified security concerns.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2022

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