Dubai: Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez admitted he was stunned by Australia’s fightback on Monday night, which resulted in his team narrowly avoiding being bowled out for the lowest score in International Twenty20 history.
Hafeez’s team eventually bettered Kenya’s total of 67 all out against Ireland at Belfast in 2008 by just seven runs, on their way to a 94-run defeat in the third match of the Cool & Cool Cup series in Dubai.
It was not only Pakistan’s biggest defeat in this format, but also the joint lowest score by a Test-playing nation in Twenty20 cricket, equalling India’s 74 all out against Australia at Melbourne in 2008.
But Hafeez categorically denied accusations that Pakistan’s loss was down to complacency as they had already won the series. “We were not complacent. Every one of us wanted to win, but I think Australia played better cricket than us,” he said. “We did not play smart cricket. While batting we lost too many wickets during the first six overs and that really cost us the match.
“This result is a wake-up call for the whole team. The way we approached the chase wasn’t good. We lost too many wickets early on and so we could not recover.
“Overall my boys played really good cricket during the whole series. In the last game they could not meet the expectations. We are all now looking forward to the mega event [the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka that starts next week] and we will take some positives out of this match. We will see the difference in our next games.”
Hafeez made only one change to to his team for the match — Asad Shafiq for Sohail Tanvir — even though he had previously announced he may give others sitting on the bench a chance to perform. “There isn’t much time before the mega event so I wanted to give more chances to my main players,” he explained. “I did not want to bring many changes mainly due to this reason, but I wanted to see Asad Shafiq in action. He is a good enough player to replace anybody.”
He also picked out a couple of areas in which his side need to improve if they are to win the Twenty20 World Cup. “We need to increase our energy levels in Twenty20 fielding and sometimes while chasing we as a team panic. These are two areas we need to improve before the Twenty20 World Cup,” he said.
Hafeez did not mince his words on Umar Akmal’s poor form. “There is no doubt he is not performing well — that is my honest opinion. He has to understand his role and I think we have seen his talent, but he needs to show more responsibility. The whole management is backing him all the way as he is a match-winner and I am hopeful he will come up with some good performances soon.”
However, Hafeez justified the out-of-form Shoaib Malek’s place in the team. “I personally feel Malek is a very good all-rounder. He is finding it hard to come back. He is a very hard-working person and very honest in his job. I am pretty sure he will be one of the key players for Pakistan in the World Cup and will come up with some good performances,” he said.