MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Imran Khan won a Cricket World Cup for Pakistan long before he won an election to be prime minister.
The PM had a few ideas on how Pakistan might end its run of six World Cup losses to archrival India, so he sent a few thoughts via social media for the team.
The main advice from the 1992 World Cup-winning captain ahead of Sunday’s game: bat first if you win the toss; pick specialist batters and specialist bowlers.
— Pakistan won the toss and sent India in to bat at Old Trafford. It wasn’t an unreasonable decision considering the cool, overcast conditions, the fact it had rained heavily the previous day and the likelihood further bad weather would trigger the revised run-rate scenarios which tend to favor the chasing team.
— Pakistan dropped a specialist batsman and a specialist bowler and recalled two all-rounders. The aim was to add depth to the spin attack on a wicket that takes turn.
The result? Loss No. 7.
“Today’s match was a disaster for us, but I’m confident we can bounce back from this,” Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said, in comments translated from Urdu.
Pakistan has so far had matches in this tournament against all the other previous champions, losing to West Indies, Australia and India and having to share the points in a washout against Sri Lanka.
The one win to date was against top-ranked England, the pre-tournament favorite. The next game is South Africa, which also has three points. Lose that and there’s no chance they can reach the semifinals.
Sarfaraz faced questions about team selection and the body language of the players but said the 89-run loss, based on a revised target after the rain-interrupted game, was the result of his team not capitalizing on its chances.
Rohit Sharma scored 140 from 113 balls, but was in his 30s when he should have been run out. Fakhar Zaman threw to the wrong end from midwicket after KL Rahul had turned his batting partner back instead of taking a second run and Sharma was well out of his ground.
“We had two lapses. We had chances we didn’t take,” Sarfaraz said. “If we’d taken those chances it could have been different — we would have been in a better position.”
Left-arm paceman Mohammad Amir took 3-47 after India’s flying start, but the 2011 World Cup winners still posted 336-5, a record total for a one-day international at Old Trafford. Pakistan lost opener Imam-ul-Haq with the total at 13, recovered with a 104-run stand between Fakhar Zaman (62) and Babar Azam (48), but fell behind a competitive strike-rate and lost steam when Kuldeep Yadav took both their wickets.
Pakistan went to a rain delay in the 35th over at 166-6, and was set a revised target of 302 from 40 overs to win — a near-impossible 136 from five overs.
They never got close.
Sarfaraz said India was just playing better cricket at the moment than Pakistan, which lost the first World Cup encounter between the two countries in 1992 but still captured the title that year.
He also defended the decision to bowl first, which backfired when Sharma shared partnerships of 136 with KL Rahul and 98 with Virat Kohli for the first two wickets.
“I think we won a good toss — we just didn’t capitalize,” he said. “When we saw the pitch, a little bit of moisture on the pitch, we used the conditions. I think we didn’t hit the right areas … while they played really well through that.”
Pakistan still has matches to play against South Africa, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
“Yes, we haven’t played good cricket today, but we’re looking forward to the remaining four matches,” Sarfaraz said. “Our target is to win the next four matches.”
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