Pakistan crumbled limply during their 124-run defeat to arch-rivals India in the Champions Trophy 2017 opener at Edgbaston on Sunday, according to former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi. The 37-year-old, who announced his international retirement earlier this year, also said heaped praise on Virat Kohli's men, saying that Men in Blue lived up to their tag of tournament favourites.
The buildup to Sunday's Group B clash was electric as the cricket fraternity had eagerly awaited another tightly-fought encounter between the two sides. However their first meeting since 2015 World Cup group tie in Adelaide, turned out to be a one-sided affair after Pakistan could manage only 164 in chase of 291 in the rain-affected game.
"The Indo-Pak Champions Trophy encounter failed to live up to its hype as Pakistan produced a forgettable performance at Edgbaston. As a Pakistani supporter, the drab show was a painful watch indeed as India once again proved that it has a stranglehold over its neighbour that it is in no mood to relinquish," Afridi said, referring to India's 13-2 record over Pakistan in ICC tournaments, as quoted by the International Cricket Council's official website.
Pakistan seized the early advantage by winning the toss and sending India in under dark clouds, but the defending champions rode on half-centuries from skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh to post 318 in 48 overs, despite rain frequently disrupting the proceedings at Edgbaston.
In reply, Sarfraz Ahmad's never looked like gunning the total down as all their batsmen struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking and too many dot balls added to the pressure. Afridi blasted the batting-unit, saying there was no excuse for ending up with just 164 runs on a flat deck.
"In modern ODI cricket you need to innovate and come hard at the bowlers, batsmen cannot let the bowlers get into their groove. I feel that our batsmen are short on the skills side and freeze under pressure," Afridi added.
"The senior lot failed to cope with the increasing run-rate and got out after occupying the crease for long but barren durations. There is simply no excuse for a 164-run score on a flat wicket where the opposition managed 319 with consummate ease."
Afridi questions Sarfraz tactics
The big-hitting all-rounder also was not happy with the way Sarfraz handled his bowlers. Afridi says the skipper missed a trick by not using his fast bowlers early on when the conditions were suited to swing and seam bowling, which let Rohit and Dhawan settle down and lay a platform to push the scoring rate in the end over, which exactly was what India managed - 72 runs in the last four overs.
"Mohammad Amir bowled a splendid first over and I thought he would strike with the new ball. Strangely though, Sarfraz handed the other new ball to Imad Wasim despite the overcast conditions. The tactic was perplexing for me since the match wasn't being played in the UAE!," Afridi added.
"Our death bowling was once our strength, especially with the ability of our bowlers to bowl yorkers consistently. I do not know why the yorker has gone missing."