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Friday, June 7, 2024

Saqlain justifies Pakistan’s approach after Asia Cup defeat

But Saqlain was not worried about Rizwan's sluggish strike rate of 117.57 runs per hundred balls in the high-octane format.

Pakistan coach Saqlain Mushtaq defended his team’s Twenty20 playing style after losing Sunday’s Asia Cup final, saying they were on the right track for next month’s T20 World Cup.

Babar Azam’s side failed to chase 171 to beat Sri Lanka,  their 23-run defeat bucking the trend of teams winning while batting second in Dubai.

Mohammad Rizwan made 55 in 49 balls for Pakistan and finished as the tournament’s leading scorer with 281 runs in six innings.

But Saqlain was not worried about Rizwan’s sluggish strike rate of 117.57 runs per hundred balls in the high-octane format.

By comparison, Virat Kohli scored 276 runs for India at a more rapid 147.59 across his five innings.

“Everyone has their own style of playing cricket,” Saqlain said.

“We made the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup (last year) and now the final of the Asia Cup, so evidence suggests we are doing something right.

“We did so with our style of play, and the things that are left to be done will be worked upon, rather than following the style of the rest of the cricket-playing nations.”

Babar, a prolific scorer for the team before the tournament, managed just 68 runs in six matches with a highest of 30, but Saqlain played down the opener’s loss of form.

“As I said before, anybody with a deep eye of cricket will realise that he is unlucky with the way he is getting out,” said Saqlain.

“The way he plays and his work ethic needs no further discussion. He is a world-class player and God save him from the evil eye.”

Read more: Asia Cup talking points: Kohli’s return, Sri Lankan surprise

The 27-year-old Babar, who has scored 2,754 runs in 80 Twenty20 internationals at an average of over 42, recently lost his number one T20 world ranking to fellow opener Rizwan.

Babar’s final dismissal in the tournament came with a loose flick down the leg side to be caught at short-fine leg off fast bowler Pramod Madushan, who claimed four wickets.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka’s fightback from a precarious 58-5 to post 170-6 and then the bowlers including Wanindu Hasaranga bowled out Pakistan for 147.

Hasaranga returned figures of 3-27 with his leg-spin after he smashed 36 in a key partnership with the left-handed Rajapaksa.

Saqlain praised champions Sri Lanka, who previously beat Pakistan, India and Afghanistan in the Super Four stage, for their complete showing in the final.

Read more: Some Afghan players took sleeping pills after defeat from Pakistan: M Nabi

“Sri Lanka batted second and then batted first against us and became champions. Well deserved,” said Saqlain.

“We just played first nine overs of really good cricket and after that they played almost 31 overs and dominated us in all aspects — in batting, bowling and fielding.”

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk