Sunday Jun 30, 2019
LEEDS: Pakistan’s roller-coaster World Cup campaign is alive due to a series of heroic efforts.
Against South Africa, it was Haris Sohail, while Babar Azam lifted them at Edgbaston just when New Zealand were beginning to look threatening.
On Wednesday here at Headingley, it was Imad Wasim’s turn to wear the cape of a superhero.
Pakistan were looking in clear and present danger when skipper Sarfraz Ahmed departed after a suicidal attempt for a double. Pakistan were six down and still needed 72 more on a tricky wicket against a dangerous spin attack.
Imad, who had taken two wickets to help Pakistan restrict Afghanistan to 227-9, played perhaps the most important innings of his career – an unbeaten 49 from 54 balls to help Pakistan survive in the do-or-die match.
“I was disappointed at myself previously for not helping the team finish games but thankfully I managed to do it today,” Imad said after Pakistan’s three-wicket win.
Imad paid due credit to the duo of Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz for their supporting roles in the death overs.
“Shadab was really good. I must say that Wahab Bhai played a very important role. He bowled with a broken finger and batted in pain. His six and four were very important for us,” he said.
Pakistan had taken the field against Afghanistan following impressive wins against South Africa and New Zealand. With momentum on their side, Pakistan were supposed to comfortably beat the bottom-placed Afghans but it turned out to be a different story.
So did the Pakistanis allowed complacency to creep in?
Imad doesn’t think so.
“We weren’t complacent, no way. Afghanistan are a very tough side. Especially in conditions that suit them. Today’s wicket was very good for their spinners. It was a very tense chase for us. Playing against Rashid Khan and Mujeeb on this wicket was tough. They are world-class spinners.”
Imad must have been under great pressure especially after the dismissal of Sarfraz.
“Not really. I never really think about it. Cricket is not a matter of life and death for me. I love my country and I go there thinking about giving my best.”
Imad believes Pakistan’s biggest loss in the second half of their run-chase was the departure of Sarfraz.
“I don’t how he got run out. He is our best player against spin and if he had stayed there I’m sure we would have won much more comfortably.”
Pakistan have to beat Bangladesh in their last group game to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Will the Headingley scare serve as a wake-up call for Pakistan?
Imad is confident that Pakistan will beat Bangladesh and make it to the last four.
“Such results give us confidence. We are not scared of any team. I believe that if we give our 100 per cent we can beat any team in this competition.”