Rollercoaster ride ends with runners-up regret - Pakistan tournament review
Most runs – Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood (175)
Most wickets – Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan (11)
What went right
Pakistan were only one polished performance away from clinching an incredible ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title after overcoming two final-ball losses to win their next four matches.
That hot streak and surge into the Final was built on a potent pace attack led by Shaheen Afridi who improved as the tournament progressed after recovering from a knee injury.
A fired-up Afridi was a thunderous threat with the new ball, while Mohammad Wasim and Haris Rauf ensured there was little respite for opposition batters and both claimed eight wickets.
Shadab Khan was one the top spinners of the tournament while also contributing 98 runs to finish as the fifth-highest scorer for Pakistan.
Shan Masood was at his best when Pakistan had their backs to the wall, top-scoring in each of their losses to India, Zimbabwe and England, while Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan stepped up in the semi-final with a century partnership.
What went wrong
Pakistan could reliably turn to Afridi when the stakes and pressure were highest, and the 22-year-old delivered with a wicket in the opening over of both the semi-final and Final.
But when the match was on the line against England in the 16th over of the Final, Pakistan’s main weapon was unable to bowl - let alone strike - due to a knee injury he sustained when catching Harry Brook in the outfield.
England needed 41 runs off 29 balls when Afridi walked off the field, and were then able to mostly cruise to the target as Pakistan missed their pace spearhead.
The eventual runners-up did little wrong in their opening loss to India as Virat Kohli ran rampant, but would rue a stuttering chase that exposed a sometimes fragile batting line-up as they fell one run short against Zimbabwe.
It took until the semi-final for star openers Babar and Rizwan to truly make their mark on the tournament, though both battled hard in tricky conditions in the Final.
What does the future hold?
With Afridi, Mohammad Wasim and Naseem Shah all under the age of 23, Pakistan have a pace attack to build around.
Mohammad Haris also showed glimpses of his talent after being a surprise addition when Pakistan had no margin for error in their last four matches including the Final.
With youth coming through, and Babar and Rizwan not quite having their usual impact on this tournament, Pakistan should have high hopes that they can go one step further next time.
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