In a virtual quarterfinal against the West Indies in Mirpur (Dhaka) on Tuesday night, Pakistan suffered their second biggest defeat in terms of runs in Twenty20 internationals to crash out of the ICC World Twenty20 championship. Pakistan were all out for a paltry 82, losing by 84 runs in a contest where the green shirts threw their wickets away with gay abandon. (Match scorecard | Match highlights)
There have always been murmurs of discontent in the Pakistan camp and the lack of conviction in an important game was all too evident as West Indies came from the dead when they batted first on a wicket that aided spin. Pakistan skipper Mohammed Hafeez was a shattered man after the match and apologized to fans whose aspiration with ever Pakistani win in the championship.
Hafeez was confronted with several questions. He missed the support of the team's senior-most batsmen like Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal. Hafeez's relationship with the team management was yet again under the scanner, but Hafeez was diplomatic and put it down to collective failure. However, during a post-match chat on TV, Hafeez admitted his team "panicked under pressure".
"After a loss, such things come up," Hafeez said. "But you have to keep in mind that no team wins because of any one individual or loses because of any one individual. It was a good display overall, but in this match, we didn't play well. We take collective responsibility. It's not one person's responsibility. The entire management, all the players, are equally responsible.
"The management has worked hard with the players. All the plans, they were able to reach the players, gave us all the practice. At the end of the day, the players have to deliver, they have to execute the plans. In this tournament, especially in this match, if the execution wasn't good, then the responsibility lies with the players, not the management. But as a team, we didn't do well. All of us have to accept it.
"I apologise to the people of Pakistan as captain and on behalf of the team that we couldn't live up to their expectations. But these things happen in cricket. You are the same person who plays good and bad cricket. But it is important that you take the good things going forward and maintain that."
The West Indians scored 82 runs in their last five overs and Pakistan's famed bowling attack was smashed by Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo. It was still possible to make a match of the winning target but the Pakistani batsmen played just too many loose strokes.
"The plans were in place but once the pressure got on to them, our best bowlers Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul didn't do the basics right. They leaked too many runs towards the end. We didn't get the momentum in our favour.
"We played some of the shots which were not there and losing too many wickets in the first six overs really cost the game. The batsmen have to take the responsibility. There was never any one innings that came forward. When the momentum is not with you, you get to see this kind of cricket where even good teams can collapse."
Hafeez and party will surely see a hostile reception at home this time. When the Pakistanis returned home after losing the Asia Cup final on March 8, the players were treated like heroes because they had beaten India. This time around, Pakistan not only failed to make the semifinals but lost to India as well in the first match of the Super-10 stage on March 21.