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ICC World T20 2014: Pakistan did not play with relaxed frame of mind, says Rameez Raja

Rameez Raja said that Pakistan was poor against Wet Indies in ICC World T20 2014 © Getty Images
Rameez Raja said that Pakistan was poor against the West Indies in ICC World T20 2014 © Getty Images (File Photo)

By Amir Husain

Former Pakistan captain and opener, Rameez Raja is no stranger to pressure situations. He was part of a band of a select few players who had the honour to represent Pakistan in the now historic victory against England in the 1992 World Cup in Australia. Pakistan were crowned World Champions on that day in March. Rameez now plies his expertise on the airwaves as a TV commentator, he is aware of the expectations and intensity associated with high stakes games.

As a TV commentator during the virtual quarter-final game between Pakistan and West Indies, Rameez was perfectly placed to analyse the reasons behind Pakistan’s shocking 84 run defeat which left pundits and fans in a state of disbelief. In an exclusive interview to PakPassion.net, Rameez spoke about the reasons behind Pakistan’s loss, his views on the apparent lack of form of captain Mohammad Hafeez and the why he considers that players like Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik will continue to play a role in the future of Pakistan cricket.

 

Pakpassion.net (PP): What do you think are the reasons behind  Pakistan’s dismal display against the West Indies in ICC World T20 2014?

Rameez Raja (RR): This was a very poor performance by Pakistan. They were nervous and there were technical flaws and when Saeed Ajmal, your best bowler, goes for over 40 in his quota of four overs then you are done as a bowling side.

Even before the start of the game, when they were watching Australia and Bangladesh play, they appeared so nervous as a unit. They were sitting like school kids watching that contest. There were no smiles but frowns on their foreheads. You need to be relaxed to enjoy such a contest. You must have seen Darren Sammy smiling at the toss? The West Indians seemed a lot more relaxed and at ease.

As I said on my show after the game, we had the shortest 1992 World Cup team meeting before the final, where Imran [Khan] just said go and have a blast as you may never get a chance to play again at such a stage. Forget about winning and losing — just go out there and soak up the atmosphere.

Pakistan did not do that today, they did not play with a relaxed frame of mind and it hit their strategy, talent and natural ability. Granted that chasing is a problem but to get out for 80 odd is pretty pathetic as you do expect Pakistan to at least put up a fight. I don’t think they were in such bad form during the World T20 —Pakistan were just too tense today against the West Indies.

PP: Why do you believe Pakistan lost the plot in the last five overs after dominating the first 15 overs of the game?

RR: In [Twenty20] T20 cricket, you can just turn it around. Teams can struggle and then make a remarkable comeback or they can be in control in the first 10-12 overs and then lose the plot completely. Every situation has its own pressure and the pressure got to Pakistan. Once the attack was launched by Sammy and Bravo, they [Pakistan] lost the script completely. From that point onwards, they were simply reacting to the situation – there were virtual bombshells being delivered by the cricket bats! An assault was on the cards because when Sammy and Bravo are batting, even a mis-hit carries over the ropes.

Ajmal had a poor day as well. The trouble is that he only bowls the doosras which get picked up easily. He is becoming just a little predictable with his round the wicket doosra. Good hitters will always find a way to dominate him. On top of that, because it was more a battle of nerves, good length deliveries became half-trackers and similarly, a fuller delivery became a full toss and a doosra didn’t really spin away. Pakistan were struck down in a bout of nerves.”

PP: Mohammad Hafeez didn’t come across as an attacking batsman that he was supposed to be. Nerves, pressure of captaincy or simply he is out of form?

RR: I feel that you need to concentrate on your role as a specialist batsman and forget about the fact that you are captain of the side. It hurts you when you go out to bat with this extra bit of pressure or when you are bowling and have that on your mind. The idea is to completely divorce the two issues and just be an individual when you go out there and do what is required of you which is, simply speaking, to bat. At times he [Hafeez] gets bogged down by the pressure of the situation and takes so much on himself that he forgets that he has a role to play as a batsman and not as a batting captain. That to me is one of the reasons why he did not seem to be in complete flow or control.

PP: Do you think Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik are coming to the end of their T20I careers?

RR: The problem is that Pakistan do not have a sound batting cupboard. This is the reason why we keep on picking players such as Kamran {Akmal, whom I call a veteran now as he has a lot of experience or Shoaib as a batsman for similar reasons. Basically, if you are not finding fresh blood or quality players then you have no option but to call on the services of these cricketers every season.

We have all seen what Sohaib Maqsood did today. He self-destructed or imploded today. We speak of Maqsood as having loads of potential but it appears that he just doesn’t know how to bat in pressure situations! So you include a youngster in the place of a Kamran Akmal or a Shoaib Malik, then you find that he doesn’t live up to the expectations and is far below the par mark. So really, it’s a catch-22 type situation. What to do with Pakistan’s batting resources? There are not enough good quality batsmen coming through and this is precisely why we have to call upon the likes of Kamran and Shoaib.

ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details

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(Amir Husain is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net. The above article is reproduced with permission from http://pakpassion.net/)

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