A 29-run defeat creates a false proximity between the two teams.
When Umar Akmal was clean bowled by Harbhajan Singh in the 34th over, Pakistan’s World Cup dreams looked all but finished, leaving Misbah-ul Haq to supervise an excruciating run chase that was ill-paced and ill-conceived. It wasn’t the glorious final stand that Pakistanis had imagined.
At the halfway interval Pakistan had the match in their grasp. At 100 for 2, they were within sight of a famous triumph, but it was not to be. The pressure of a World Cup run chase was too much for this Pakistan team, weary after many long months of exile from its own land.
A short-term view is clouded by the hollowness of defeat but a more reasoned perspective casts Pakistan’s tournament performance in a very different light. Afridi’s side entered the competition on the back of an unending controversy, with the shadow of spot-fixing dogging their every step. They lost their premier pace bowlers to that scandal and their opening batsmen.
Backed by an inadequate and accident-prone administration, Pakistan cricket had reached its lowest ever ebb by the end of last year. By the start of the World Cup, despite some reasonable one-day form and a hint of resilience in the face of adversity, Pakistan were dismissed as also-rans and no-hopers for the world title.
Instead, the team of Afridi and Waqar Younis thrilled the world at this tournament.
That Pakistan became serious contenders for the title is a measure of the success that the team achieved. Yes, there is sadness and heartbreak at defeat. Yes, Pakistan cricket is a flawed and disappointing enterprise. But the cricketers of Pakistan restored some much-needed pride to an embattled nation.
As well as pride, they also brought much joy. For that alone, Pakistan’s cricketers deserve our gratitude.
ISLAMABAD: Disappointed Pakistani cricket fans on Wednesday blamed a sluggish Misbah-ul-Haq for defeat in the World Cup semi-final thriller with arch-rival India.
India defeated Pakistan by 29 runs in a match dubbed the “clash of the titans” to set up a World Cup final showdown with Sri Lanka in Mumbai on Saturday, leaving fans across cricket-loving Pakistan deflated.
“We lost because of Misbah, as he did not score well when it was most required,” a fan Awais Shakir told AFP on Islamabad’s main Jinnah Avenue as thousands of disappointed fans were leaving for home.
“He just wasted time on the pitch.” Fans in other Pakistani cities which ground to a halt for the game also criticised Misbah, who scored 56 from 76 balls.
For schoolteacher Hazrat Ali, it was disappointing —but not the end of the game. “Defeat and win is part of the game. Our team will win next time,” he said.
In Karachi, engineer Mohammad Ali said: “It was a great contest all along and the day belonged to India. However Misbah and Younis Khan were very lazy.”
By the evening all major roads in several Pakistani cities were gridlocked with cars, motorcycles and jubilant revellers, but the festive atmosphere gradually turned tense as Pakistani batting line began to fall before India.
Power cuts sparked protests by hundreds of angry spectators who blocked a main highway in Muzaffarabad.
Excerpts from “THE NATION “: A Pakistani Daily
Mohali battle lost
Published: March 31, 2011 MOHALI (AFP) – Disciplined bowling by India saw them beat Pakistan by 29 runs on Wednesday to set-up a World Cup final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai on Saturday.Pakistan, chasing 261 for victory, were dismissed for 231 with a ball to spare after all of India’s five bowlers took two wickets apiece.