Pakistani cricket fans watch the ICC Men's T20 World Cup...

Pakistani cricket fans watch the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan on a big screen in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, June. 9, 2024. Credit: AP/Ikram Suri

ISLAMABAD — The timid batting of Pakistan's cricket team has left the country’s former cricketers and fans furious after rival India snatched a thrilling six-run win in the marquee game at the Twenty20 World Cup in New York.

A second successive loss in Group A on Sunday left Pakistan in danger of not advancing to the Super 8 stage of the tournament being jointly hosted by the U.S. and the West Indies.

The United States, playing at the World Cup for first time, already made history last Thursday when it beat Pakistan in a Super Over after both teams were locked at 159 during the regulation 20-overs game.

Only two teams from each of the four groups advance to the second stage. So Pakistan needs to win its remaining games against Canada and Ireland and also hope results of other group games go in its favor to progress.

“I think I should have a template text ‘disappointed and hurt’ automatically set to be posted,” wrote former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We should give credit to Pakistan, they tried their best to lose this game, I could not think any other way,” Akhtar said on national television’s sports channel PTV Sports. “It was run-a-ball, nobody asked you to hit and do anything stupid. Shocking, surprised, disappointed, but that was expected.”

Akhtar said the Pakistan team is made up of ordinary cricketers and he has no hope the team will get better in the future.

Pakistani cricket fans react while they watch the ICC Men's...

Pakistani cricket fans react while they watch the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan on a big screen in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, June. 9, 2024. Credit: AP/Ikram Suri

“They won’t change,” he said. “You are demanding extraordinary things from average people, you won’t get it. When mediocrity comes in you can’t get beyond that. That’s what you are getting from your investment (in cricket) for the last 20 years.”

Akhtar also criticized the International Cricket Council for the drop-in pitches in New York where all the five games have been low-scoring ones.

“Who makes that kind of tracks?” he questioned. “You had one year to prepare yourself. Hello ICC, wake up.”

Pakistan blew an ideal opportunity after its fast bowlers had bowled out India for 119 in 19 overs on another tricky surface where batters continued to struggle. It was cruising along at 80-3 in 13 overs when set batter Mohammad Rizwan played a reckless shot against Jasprit Bumrah and eventually Pakistan got restricted at 113-7.

“Batsmen throw it away as Pakistan lose to India in low-scoring nailbiter,” read the headline on the front page of English daily newspaper Dawn. The newspaper also splashed the picture of Rizwan on his knee after getting clean bowled and Bumrah celebrating the dismissal with Virat Kohli.

“Pakistan squander solid start as India claim T20 thriller,” headlined The News, another English daily.

Pakistan’s former fast bowling greats Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, who commentated on the game from New York, also vented their anger after the defeat against India.

“They have been playing cricket for 10 years and I can’t teach them,” Akram said. “Rizwan has no game awareness. He should have known Bumrah was given the ball to take wickets and that the wise thing would have been to play his deliveries cautiously, but Rizwan went for the big shot and lost his wicket.”

Younis said it was a horrible performance from the batters.

“Pakistan, if you can’t win this game, what should I say?,” he said. “This was given to you on a plate and Pakistan really spilled it. It was horrible performance by the Pakistan batters. There were a few partnerships in the beginning but they couldn’t really finish the game.

Thousands of cricket-mad fans had gathered in front of large screens in major cities in Pakistan to watch the blockbuster contest between the two nuclear-armed nations that have not played in any bilateral cricket matches for over a decade, but regularly play against each other in the ICC tournaments.

At least 17,000 people watched the game live on screens at the Pindi Cricket Stadium ‘fan park’, specifically set up by the ICC.

“I can’t believe it,” said 20-year-old university student Ibrahim Irfan after he walked out of the stadium in disbelief with his four friends. “It’s disgusting to say the least. How can they lose a game while chasing such a small target? We need a major overhaul. We are sick and tired of watching the same useless batters like Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim.”

Ahmed Awan, another fan who watched the game on giant screen in Karachi, said Pakistan players play for personal milestones.

“They bowled well but the batting was disappointing. They are playing for personal milestones … they should open the batting with tailenders and also in the middle order. The openers should come in the latter half of the game, be it (captain) Babar (Azam) or Rizwan.”

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