ISLAMABAD   -   Former Test cricketer Abdul Qadir has praised Shaheen Shah, Babar Azam and Haris Sohail for their outstanding performances to help Pakistan beat New Zealand in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at Birmingham.

Talking to The Nation, Qadir, who was also PCB chief selector, said: “Fortune always favours the brave. Same happened against the Kiwis, as it was sheer good luck for Sarfraz Ahmed that he lost the toss, or else he would be in a fix again, whether to bowl or bat in overcast conditions, as Willamson won the toss and opted to bat first.

“It was Sarfraz’ day, as Muhammad Aamir managed to take wicket on a delivery, which could be hit for a boundary, had Guptil not played it onto his stumps. The way Shaheen Shah Afridi utilised the conditions, his deliveries were almost unplayable and he completely outclassed the Kiwis top order, with his sensational bowling display,” he added.

The former cricketer also gave credit to Sarfraz Ahmed for his outstanding wicketkeeping against New Zealand. “The way Sarfraz took three outstanding catches, it was enough to prove his fitness and a slap on the faces of critics, who don’t know the ABC of cricket and just have an aim to pile pressure on Pakistan cricket team.

“The captain proved his fitness. In cricket, physical fitness has been proved through your ability, how you bat and bowl and how to field. Sarfraz was at the top of his game, but another big question arises here that when New Zealand had lost 5 wickets with only 83 runs on the board, why Neesham and Grandhomme were given so much liberty to add 132 runs for the sixth-wicket stand. Both the Kiwi batsmen almost took the match away from Pakistan and helped New Zealand post 237 runs, which was not a bad total at all,” he added.

Qadir said Willamson did poor captaincy, as New Zealand had managed to grab the wickets of both Pakistani openers with only 44 runs on the board. In the second innings, bowling-friendly wicket was turned into batting paradise as fast bowlers were not getting any assistance from the wicket. “Credit must be given to both Babar Azam and Haris Sohail for extraordinary batting, but New Zealand’s otherwise outstanding fielding is to be blamed for as they gave simple chances to Haris.

“If Haris was out-stumped, Pakistan could have lost the match. Willamson badly missed the trick and kept on using fast bowlers. He should have used his main weapon Santner, who could be highly lethal in those conditions and could have provided key wickets, but Williamson had other things in mind,” he added.

Qadir said luck factor always play crucial role in such mega events. “Pakistan team was badly struggling in the tournament, but two matches changed the entire atmosphere and same Pakistan team, which was looking down and out, all of a sudden started producing extraordinary results.

“Now the big task of winning two important matches against South Africa and New Zealand has been achieved with flying colours. But both were done going harder way. Pakistan should have beaten New Zealand at least 8 to 10 overs earlier, but the batsmen consumed too many precious deliveries before chasing the target. Now they have to be aware of complacency and ensure their feet remain on the ground.

“The way, Pakistan fielders dropped seven catches and still they won, is remarkable and it clearly shows that prayers of millions of Pakistani people are doing wonders for the green caps. But Bangladesh will not give Pakistan same liberty, if they repeat same mistakes and give chances to them as if green caps provide Bangalis any liberty, they have to suffer badly. The team played well and they must continue with same mentality against remaining two opponents, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and leave the rest,” Qadir concluded.