After a chastening loss to India, Pakistan will attempt to pick up the pieces and kick-start their 2016 Asia Cup campaign when taking on the United Arab Emirates back in Mirpur on Monday. The defeat on Saturday was a continuation not only of Pakistan’s dismal record against their neighbors and fierce rivals in Twenty20 internationals, but of their recent poor form in cricket’s shortest format.
A five-wicket defeat to India meant Pakistan have now lost six of their last seven T20 matches. And they could not have gotten their Asia Cup campaign, and the real start of preparations for next month’s World T20, off to a worse start. On a pitch in Bangladesh that earlier in the tournament had already shown itself to offer plenty of encouragement to the bowlers, Pakistan were caught cold and ended up all out for a paltry score of 83.
“When you lose six wickets in the first seven overs what are the chances, who to blame?” Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said afterward. “We could blame everyone. We tried, it’s not that we didn’t try. We had the plans of someone staying out there but I think credit should also be given to them.”
Unsurprisingly, the meager total was not enough for Pakistan’s bowlers to defend, leaving India to win with 27 balls still remaining. But if there was one major positive to take from the heavy defeat, it was in the performance of Mohammad Amir. The 23-year-old only returned to international cricket last month after serving a five-year ban for spot fixing. Yet already he looks to be getting back to his best. And against India took three wickets in a blistering opening spell that also saw him go head-to-head with India star Virat Kohli in a thrilling contest between bat and ball.
“It was his own fault, so one shouldn’t cry over [his ban],” Younis added. “He’s definitely world class as Virat Kohli also said. He’s coming back and he’s getting stronger and stronger. We saw it in New Zealand, he bowled superbly and today. He’s getting better and better. He’s going to be an asset for Pakistan in the next few years. He’s bowling well, when someone’s bowling well they’re always an inspiration for young fast bowlers. The way he swung the ball, the pace, the length, it was just outstanding.”
Pakistan will now be aiming to get off the mark at the Asia Cup and remain in the running for a place in next week’s final, when taking on the UAE. The qualifiers upset Afghanistan to book their place in the tournament last week but already look to be out of the running for the final, having lost both their matches thus far, to Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh. On both occasions the UAE’s batsmen came up short, yet captain Amjad Jadev does not believe a lack of quality is the issue, but instead the limited opportunity his team gets to go up against the best cricket teams in the world.
“We have been practicing really hard at the ICC Academy, but practicing in the nets and facing the real bowler is different,” he said, according to Abu Dhabi publication The National. “We should get more games against these teams more regularly. We can definitely fix our batting problems, we just need more experience playing against them. We are not used to playing against these sort of teams. When you are playing these bowlers for the first time, you can have a tough time.”
Match time: Monday, 8:30 a.m. EST
Live streaming info: In the United States, the match can be viewed via Yupp TV.