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'Indian Media Exploited Shoaib Remark'
A former Pakistan player and coach, the irrepressible Javed Miandad reflects on the defeat and Misbah-ul-Haq's disastrous shot, comparing it to his own astonishing effort, the last ball six in Sharjah which led to a historic win. Excerpts from a conversation with Amir Mir:
What was your instant reaction to Pakistan's defeat?
Obviously, I was very disappointed because Pakistan was about to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. We have maintained our losing streak to India in World Cup matches. It's the lack of planning which explains our defeat. The players can't be blamed, the poor management should be taken to task. Throughout this Twenty20 tournament, the opening pair was a problem. One also wonders why players going for an international tournament are not trained to cope with pressure.
Was the Indian team superior to Pakistan's?
Both teams were equally good despite the fact that both were playing with many young players and were led by newly appointed captains. That they were the best teams in the Twenty20 World Cup has already been proven by the fact that they reached the final after defeating world champions Australia.
How do you compare your last-ball six in Sharjah to what happened in South Africa?
Misbah had four balls to make six runs, my target in Sharjah seemed impossible then—four runs of one ball. Misbah should have waited for an appropriate ball to attempt a six, especially as he had already hit a straight six on the very first ball of the last over. Apart from other factors, we also won the Sharjah match because the majority of the audience there was pro-Pakistan. By contrast, most of the spectators in South Africa were supporting India.
Do you think Misbah is to be blamed for the defeat?
No, it would be unfair to blame the young man. He tried his best. Pakistan, at one stage, had lost all hope; his arrival at the crease rekindled our chances. It's a great source of solace that we witnessed a good game of cricket—and credit for this belongs to Misbah. But his inexperience cost the team dearly. Either the team manager or the captain should have intervened before the start of the last over to give him tips based on their experience. Remember, in the first round match with India, Misbah had failed to make one run of two balls. Perhaps, in the final, he wanted to finish it before getting into a situation where runs to score were more than balls left. Still, Misbah has a great future ahead.
What was the turning point of the match?
Imran Nazir's run out, followed by Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi throwing away their wickets. Then Shoaib Malik's decision to send Kamran Akmal at No. 3. He'd been a failure throughout the tournament.
How do you rate the Pakistan team's performance in the Twenty20 World Cup?
Pakistan's performance was par excellence. At least the team has recovered from its disastrous show at the 50-over World Cup in the Windies earlier this year.
What about Indo-Pak cricket matches, do they still reflect the animosity of the past?
Indo-Pak animosity is dying with the passage of time...one can notice tolerance for each other now. Even the audience appreciates rival players if they perform well. But the fact remains that this history of animosity creates the thrill you experience in Indo-Pak matches.
Shoaib Malik's apology to the Muslims of the world for the defeat has raised the hackles of Indian Muslims, given that two Muslim players—the Pathan brothers—were in the Indian squad?
I think his statement has been misunderstood and exploited by the Indian media to its own advantage. What Shoaib meant was he was sorry for disappointing the Pakistani team's fans who are scattered all around the world. We need to appreciate the fact that the young man has shown immense sportsmanship and grace by taking full responsibility for the defeat.
What's the future of Twenty20?
Twenty20 definitely has a future. It appears to me that the International Cricket Council is trying to turn the stylish game of cricket into a ruthless game of baseball. Twenty20 will eventually ruin the traditional character and spirit of cricket. The shortest form of the game played in South Africa wasn't really cricket.