‘India did Pakistan a favour by playing poorly…’: Ex-PCB chief Ramiz Raja says Babar’s team ‘freezes’ under pressure

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By Mahtab Ahmad

Former PCB chief Ramiz Raja said India did Pakistan “a favour by playing poorly” in the latter half of their innings in the T20 World Cup Group A match in New York, but the Babar Azam-led side failed to take advantage of it. On a sluggish Nassau Cricket County ground pitch, India were at 80/3 in the first 10 overs, well on course for a total over 150. But things changed drastically whenSuryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube and Rishabh Pant departed quickly, some due to excellent bowling and others due to poor shot selection.

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam , center in green, walks off the field after he was dismissed by India's Jasprit Bumrah(AP)
Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam , center in green, walks off the field after he was dismissed by India’s Jasprit Bumrah(AP)

Ramiz said if India hadn’t attempted to go to hell for leather, they could have taken the game beyond Pakistan’s reach. “India did them a favour by playing poorly. Actually because they were playing like mavericks, otherwise they would have easily gotten to 140-150, which would have been beyond Pakistan. But because of their faulty shot-making and some good bowling, Pakistan came back into the game,” Ramiz Raja told Cricbuzz.

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India were bowled out for 119 in 19 overs after losing their last seven wickets for just 30 runs. The total, however, proved to be enough. Indian bowlers, led by Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, produced a terrific performance to restrict Pakistan to 113/6 in 20 overs and take a giant step towards Super 8 qualification.

Ramiz said Mohammad Rizwan’s wicket was the match’s turning point. “We didn’t see any positive intent. There was no great game awareness either. That (Mohammad) Rizwan shot off (Jasprit) Bumrah was not on. Bumrah had come in to provide the breakthrough. His two overs were make-or-break for Pakistan. If they had put their mind to it and made sure that Bumrah was negotiated safely, it could have been a smooth sailing. Also Bumrah, as we all know, is a classic (bowler). Give him the ball in any crunch moment and he will deliver. There is so much clarity in his mind on what he wants to do and he’s always a step ahead of the opponent. That really was the critical moment,” he said.

‘Pakistan tend to freeze under pressure against India’: Ramiz Raja

Rizwan was bowled for 31 while trying to hoick Bumrah across the line in the first ball of the 15th over. Pakistan needed 40 runs off 36 balls but after Rizwan’s wicket, their lower-middle order failed to keep the scoreboard moving.

“Because Rizwan was the last man standing for Pakistan. You see, the thing that frustrates me is that when you’re chasing 120, even on a tricky pitch, even against a good bowling attack like India’s, all you need is one solid partnership. That’s it. No heroics were needed, no fours or sixes. You were going at six an over. Why did you let it slip? That’s got to do with temperament,” Ramiz added.

The former batter said Pakistan players tend to freeze in pressure situations. “You got to do simple things. It was a difficult pitch and you saw how India threw their wickets away by trying to be aggressive. You couldn’t be aggressive because there was variation in the bounce. So what you had to do was to just negotiate two or three balls that were difficult. Otherwise, there were three, four runs. But they kept losing wickets. They lost momentum. It’s just that they tend to freeze in a tense situation. And that’s very sad to see. This was the best chance they had in a very long time to beat India.”

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