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T20 World Cup: Incredibly proud of the way this Pakistan team performed, says Sana Mir

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Dubai, Nov 12 (IANS) Former Pakistan women’s team captain Sana Mir said that she is incredibly proud of the way Babar Azam and Co. performed in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. She added that whenever left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi is coming in to bowl, everything around the world stops. Pakistan, who were the only undefeated side in the Super 12 stage of the tournament, lost to Australia in stunning fashion by five wickets in the second semi-final at Dubai on Thursday.

“Even though they ended up losing, I’m incredibly proud of the way this Pakistan team performed and how close they came to reaching the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 final. In the end, it came down to a few lapses in the field because they had put the runs on the board and everyone contributed. They just could not quite get over the line against Australia,” wrote Sana in her column for the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday.

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Praising Afridi for his opening burst against Australia, Sana said, “Shaheen Shah Afridi’s first over was incredible. That is becoming an event, everything stops when he has the new ball in his hand. He has been brilliant and built up the pressure because of his consistency, his application, and his skill. The best batters in the world feel under pressure when he has that new ball and it is incredible the way he has used it in this tournament.”

Sana Mir felt that with many members in the team part of the victorious 2017 ICC Champions Trophy campaign, they could have gone all the way to win the Men’s T20 World Cup. “This team knew they were good enough to perform like this, 12 of the 15 won the Champions Trophy so it was in their muscle memory. That’s why I, along with a lot of people, knew that you could not rule them out.”

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At the same time, she believed that Pakistan are still new to the match-ups arena in the T20s. “The tournament did show that Pakistan are still quite new to these sort of match-ups and how teams use data to plan, execute and select their teams. That is an area where I think they can improve, and likewise when it comes to dealing with pressure.”

“And the last thing, which might have been the key to the semi-final, is about using all 15 players in the squad. Since the warm-ups, Pakistan have stuck with the same XI throughout, whereas there might have been an opportunity to try some other plans, or bring in a top player like Mohammad Wasim Jnr at some point. It can be good to test a few people just to give yourself options when it comes to the knockout stages.”

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The 35-year-old thought that Australia is finding form at the correct juncture in the mega event. “Australia seem to be peaking at just the right time and the way they have planned and covered all bases for these knockout stages has been really impressive. They knew they needed the extra batting and it won them the semi-final. What is great about this team is that they were still not at their best, they missed a few chances in the field so they can still improve on this performance which makes them even more dangerous.”

Sana signed off by saying that Australia has an upper hand over New Zealand ahead of the final on Sunday, especially with batter Devon Conway ruled out due to hand injury. “I would love to see New Zealand lift the trophy, but I think Australia may have the edge in the final because they have the better balance, particularly with Devon Conway out injured. He has been such a key player for New Zealand and his absence might just swing it Australia’s way.”

–IANS

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