World Cup

Riaz’s dream spell goes in vain

Pakistan gave it on a platter. Poor shot selection and bad fielding cost the inspired team a spot in the semifinal. A dream spell by Wahab Riaz went unrewarded because he lacked support, and he could only watch Australia crush his and Pakistan’s dreams at the Adelaide Oval.

The result was misleading. Australia’s dominance was not so overwhelming as it appeared. It was confronted by a determined set of bowlers but Pakistan was hugely let down by the batsmen. Misbah-ul-Haq’s team had progressed in the tournament on the shoulders of its bowlers, and they did accept the challenge of defending 213 with the spirit that signifies Pakistan cricket. Sadly it was not Pakistan’s day.

Riaz was the leading fighter for Pakistan. It was one of the most hostile spells in modern cricket as he hustled the Australians, causing them discomfort in conditions they revel in.

Pakistan’s batting had been insipid. There was no planning and the choice of shots was shockingly poor. There was a stage when even 150 looked out of Pakistan’s reach. I have not seen such lack of application from batsmen at this level. Two batsmen perished in the slips and some attempting wild heaves. What was the need for Misbah to swing at the ball? The ball was in the slot but the shot was avoidable.

Shahid Afridi’s show was aimless. In five World Cups, he does not have a fifty to his name. His inclusion as leg-spinner ahead of Yasir Shah was strange. Why pick Afridi and drop Younis Khan for such an important match?

Shane Watson being given a reprieve when on four was the turning point since Australia would have been 84 for four then. It was a case of mediocre planning and execution that saw Pakistan’s exit from the World Cup. I will give credit to Steve Smith though. His batting was like rowing in peaceful waters when the rest were struggling to stay afloat.


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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 8:24:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/world-cup/riazs-dream-spell-goes-in-vain/article7016565.ece

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