(Reuters) - Pakistan’s brand of “fearless cricket” to beat South Africa by 49 runs in their World Cup match on Sunday at Lord’s was exactly the response they needed after losing to India last week, former fast bowler Waqar Younis has said.
After being humiliated by India in a one-sided contest at Old Trafford, which took their World Cup win-loss record to 0-7 against their arch rivals, Pakistan were stung by criticism and backlash from pundits and fans.
However, a convincing win over South Africa — which ended the Proteas’ chances of qualifying for the semi-finals — kept alive their own chances of reaching the knockout stages with three more matches to go.
“It was all about the positive intent for Pakistan against South Africa,” Younis wrote in a column for the International Cricket Council.
“They played fearless cricket and weren’t really worried about losing the match, which in turn gave them the freedom to pay their natural game. Coming after the disappointment of Old Trafford, Pakistan badly needed such a win.
“They have been criticised a lot and the last week has been hard on them, so coming out of that and producing such a performance was particularly pleasing... I’d really like to see them play the same way in the coming matches.”
Pakistan’s Haris Sohail was adjudged the player of the match for his 89 off 59 balls, which included nine boundaries and three sixes, and Younis reserved special praise for the middle-order batsman, saying his innings was a “breath of fresh air”.
Sohail, who had not played in the World Cup since Pakistan’s opening-match defeat to West Indies, built an 81-run partnership with Babar Azam (69), and his knock was hailed as the game’s turning point by captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
“He played magnificently well, and ultimately, his innings... was the difference,” Younis added. “Pakistan have needed someone to come in at five or six and up the ante.
“Haris has always been a very conservative and technically sound batsman but against South Africa, he took the mantle and played in a very different fashion.
“For me, he’s my number four batsman in the team... and you can give him more overs to build that innings. He and Babar Azam could really complement each other.”
Pakistan next play table toppers New Zealand, who are unbeaten at the tournament, at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly