New Delhi: Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar felt the Indian team tried its best during their 31-run defeat to England in what was a must-win game for the hosts in the ongoing World Cup.
India failed to chase down a mammoth 338-run target Sunday despite century from Rohit Sharma at Edgbaston in Birmingham. The visitors could manage 306/5 in their allotted 50 overs and fell short of the target by 31 runs.
“It was for the first time that Pakistani fans were praying for India to win against England. However, it feels like the prayers couldn’t reach India as they lost the match,” said Akhtar on his Youtube channel.
“It was for the first time since Partition that we were supporting India. I am sure India must have tried their best but their best could not help Pakistan and leave us with a hope,” he added.
Had India won the game against England, it would have made it quite easy for Pakistan to enter the semifinals as they then needed to win their final group stage encounter against Bangladesh.
Akhtar felt that the English batsmen made full use of the conditions and exposed the Indian bowling line-up.
Bairstow scored a brilliant 111 and Ben Stokes played a superb knock of 79 off just 54 balls to power England to 337/7.
“The Indian bowlers were completely exposed by Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy and other England batsmen. I felt that India could have conceded at least 30 runs less. I felt that India could have chased down if the total was around 300. However, it was not the case and we were left disappointed,” said Akhtar
“The Indian spinners, especially Yuzvendra Chahal, were taken to the cleaners by the English batsmen,” he added.
Chahal returned with figures of 0/88 in his 10 overs — his worst figures in ODI cricket. Left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav also leaked 72 runs in his 10 overs. Although, the only reprieve he had was the wicket of Jason Roy who was caught brilliant by substitute Ravindra Jadeja at long on at his individual score of 66.
Akhtar also criticised India’s batting approach in the first 10 overs and also towards the end of the innings.
“India needed to get off to a flier during their chase of 338. However, it was not the case and in the mix of things, they started very slowly. And towards, the end as well, they batted very slowly,” he said.
The Indian batting line-up will have to do a lot of thinking as their middle-order is getting exposed quite a number of times in this World Cup.
With England’s win, Pakistan’s chances of making it to the semifinals are left in a spot. They now need to win their last game against Bangladesh (Friday) and hope that New Zealand beat the Three Lions in their last encounter on Wednesday so that the Green Brigade can enter the knockout stage.