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Pakistan’s weak batting sparks Waqar’s ire

Four – the number of times a visibly angry Waqar Younis called Pakistan “not good enough” in his eight-minute press conference. It was preceded variously by “simply”, “once again” and “just”.

In particular the targets of Waqar’s ire seemed to be – he did not name them, but it was easy to join the dots – young batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, whose partnership of 17 runs in four overs, stalled the momentum that Sharjeel Khan’s explosive start gave Pakistan. The two couldn’t pick the singles, tried the big shots, failed, and by the time the partnership broke, the asking rate had risen to 11 from eight when Sharjeel got out.

Akmal has reportedly made public comments that he is not getting to bat at his desired positions, higher up in the order. In both of Pakistan’s earlier matches in the tournament, Akmal got to bat after Shahid Afridi. This time he got to bat with time in hand, but managed only 24 off 26 balls with no boundaries.

“You have to be able to adjust in T20, you have to be adaptable,” Waqar said. “Still, those who were shouting about not getting to bat in the position they want, this was their perfect opportunity. We were just not good enough. You can cry all you want, you can talk all you want, we are just not good enough. People will have to take a hard look at themselves.”

Shehzad was not spared either, and the rebuke came as Waqar tried to explain Afridi’s promotion to No. 5. “I thought logic was right,” Waqar said. “If you see, we didn’t move at all from the eighth to the 15th over. Two of our so-called youngsters, upcoming cricketers, they both batted for a good chunk of time in the middle where we thought we would take the game away. We were always in the hope. But yeah couldn’t really finish it. I thought Afridi’s move to go up the order, I thought it was a good one.”

Waqar also asked the selectors to look at this performance. “Of course it hurts,” Waqar said. “I can’t say what injection we need, but the selectors will have to pay attention to this performance. They will have to find out what players this team needs. Once again, not good enough. If I go into detail, there will be a lot of issues. About first-class cricket too. But we will have to start by solving the immediate problems.”

Pakistan still have a mathematical chance of making it to the semi-final. If they beat Australia, and if Australia beat India, there is a good chance the three of them might end up with four points each. When reminded of that faint hope, Waqar summed up the state of mind the team was in: “If you say so, we will continue to hope, but the way we have been playing we don’t deserve to go through.”

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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