Friday, 2 December, 2022
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‘Pakistan must learn how to close out big games’

‘Pakistan must learn how to close out big games’
Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi (centre) reacts with teammates after injury while taking a catch to dismiss England’s Harry Brook during the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 final match at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne on Sunday. –AFP PHOTO

Pakistan can take pride in getting to the World Cup final but now their young team must take the next step -- learning how to close out tight games, said batsman Shan Masood on Sunday.

Babar Azam's men pushed England all the way at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but fell to a five-wicket defeat with six balls remaining after setting a below-par 138-run target to win.

Masood top-scored with 38 and said he took responsibility for not staying around longer to put together a bigger total.

"There were stages especially with the bat that we could have finished things off really well," he said.

"Personally, I take blame for it. We were aiming for 170 and having looked at the way the innings ended, we could have used a batsman staying in and getting us to at least 155-160, which would have been good on that pitch."

Instead they fell short, leaving it up to their renowned pace attack to blunt England. But Ben Stokes's unbeaten 52 was enough to see his team to a second T20 World Cup triumph following their 2010 victory.

Pakistan suffered a blow when strike bowler Shaheen Afridi was injured catching Harry Brooks in the deep and unable to complete his final two overs at the death.

"We could have done with his two overs at the end," Masood said.

"I hope he is OK. It's his knee. From what I am hearing all his ligament tests are clear."

Despite the defeat, Pakistan's performance in Australia exceeded expectations after they lost their first two matches in the Super 12 to India and Zimbabwe and scraped into the semi-finals courtesy of South Africa's shock defeat to the Netherlands a week ago.

Masood said the young team had a bright future, but needed to learn how to win the tight moments.

"The games that we won, we won them quite comfortably," he said.

"The good sign is that when we lost, we lost close games. So you realise that these things are in your own hands.

"The three games we lost to India, Zimbabwe and now England there were opportunities where we could have closed out those games.

"I think the next step this young team has to take is finishing games, finishing out close moments.

"But I just feel the way Babar is leading this team, the leadership group in Shadab (Khan) and (Mohammad) Rizwan, I've got no doubts that with future World Cups coming this side will be a constant threat and among the top teams."