JOHANNESBURG: Unlucky was the word that Pakistan captain Younis Khan used to describe his side’s status following the defeat to New Zealand in the second semi-final at The Wanderers – the five-wicket loss dumping his side out of the Champions Trophy on Saturday night.
The disappointing end, after an equally poor start, aptly complemented Pakistan’s display in all three departments of the game with a dropped catch that would initiate many conversations for weeks to follow.
‘Once you reach the semi-final or final, you need a bit of luck to progress,’ Younis said. ‘Although we batted poorly at the start and our bowling was below par, we were unlucky and if we had been lucky with some umpiring decisions, or inflicted some run-outs or even taken our catches cleanly, the result might have been different.’
Refusing to comment on the dubious umpiring decisions – especially that of Umar Akmal who was adjudged lbw as the ball hit his pad off the face the bat – Younis also rued his dropped catch, blaming his fractured right-hand finger for the spill.
‘I dropped a simple catch that I will remember for a long time. However, there was a time in the tournament when I ran out Gautam Gambhir with the same hand and took a difficult catch in the next match. While people will blame me for the dropped catch and playing with the injury, they should also remember the earlier incidents and how that helped the team.
‘This is life. It’s a matter of playing for the nation with a broken finger and that same finger, unfortunately, dropped the catch. Other than the drop, we also made a few other mistakes that contributed to the loss and things like these happen in game. I’m not worried about my mistake.’
The skipper went on to add: ‘We batted poorly, especially in the powerplays. Our batsmen did manage a few decent starts but they couldn’t capitalise on them and looked under pressure. At one stage it looked we’ll be dismissed for 160 but the partnership between Umar Akmal and Mohammad Yousuf helped us recover. But even the duo, after being set, failed to go on and play a long innings and had they stayed on till the final Powerplay, we might’ve scored 260 or 270.’
Pakistan’s failure in the five-over gap was on stark contrast to New Zealand who, requiring over seven runs an over prior to the powerplay, blasted 55 runs off theirs. Vettori, who promoted himself above Neil Broom and James Franklin, shared a 104-run partnership and capped off a remarkable day for himself, having taken three for 43 earlier.
‘It was a very satisfying win as we lost critical players prior to the match,’ Vettori, who was labelled the difference between the two teams by Younis, said. ‘Even Elliot, who scored a wonderful 75 and showed a lot of character, was in doubt but he managed to play such an impressive innings with a broken thumb. We bowled well early on, put a lot of pressure on them and whenever we needed a bit of impetus in our batting, our players provided that.’
With a few days to recover before heading to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for an ODI and Twenty20 series against the same opponents, Younis, despite Pakistan’s mediocre performance in the tournament, remained impressed with his side’s show in the tournament and how reaching the semi-finals would silence the critics.
‘We were labelled as a Twenty20 team and written off before the tournament started. Despite the loss, it has been a fantastic tournament for us and reaching the last four has been an impressive job. I’ve always wanted Pakistan to finish in the top four of a tournament – obviously reaching the final would have been extra special – and it was great teamwork that led us this far.’