Shoaib Akhtar in a video on his YouTube channel© YouTube
The Pakistan cricket team’s hopes of qualifying for the Asia Cup 2023 final of the tournament were shattered as Sri Lanka emerged triumphant in the virtual semi-final match on Thursday. Pakistan were hopeful of securing a date with India in the title-decider but Charith Asalanka kept his nerves under control in the last moments to guide Sri Lanka to victory. Seeing Babar Azam’s men being eliminated from the tournament, former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar rued the fact that an opportunity for a first-ever Indo-Pak final in the Asia Cup was lost.
Shoaib Akhtar was full of praise for Pakistan pacer Zaman Khan who was drafted into the team after injuries to Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah. Zaman didn’t pick a single wicket in the match and conceded 39 runs in 6 overs. Yet, he impressed Akhtar with his performance.
“You’ve seen the match. Pakistan are out of the tournament. The match that was made in favour of Pakistan, was all done by Zaman Khan. He landed the day before yesterday and this boy did excellent bowling in the Pakistan Super League. Whatever chances Pakistan had of winning the match were all because of him. Shaheen Afridi also got a few wickets but credit goes to Zaman. He bowled really well,” Akhtar said in a video on his YouTube channel.
Embarrassing loss. Really disappointed .
Wake up call guys!!! pic.twitter.com/qDtQWM7YJJ
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) September 14, 2023
The Rawalpindi Express also felt that Pakistan deserved to qualify for the final. But, he also admitted that Sri Lanka were better on the day.
“Pakistan deserved to win go to the Asia Cup final but they are out of the tournament. They can be criticised a lot as they were touted as the ‘favourites’ but are out of the tournament now. Unfortunately, there can’t be a Pakistan vs India match in the final, it has never happened (kabhi Pakistan, India ka match (final) ho nahi sakta, kabhi hua nahi). This was the chance but Sri Lanka deserved to be the finalists. They were the far better team,” he opined.
A heartbroken Shoaib Akhtar termed the loss ’embarrassing’ and asked Babar’s men to pull up their socks for the ODI World Cup that starts next month.
“Having said that, this is a very embarrassing loss. The fact that Pakistan are out of the tournament, doesn’t look nice. Pakistan have a lot to think about. The captaincy needs to sharpen up a bit. I am very disappointed. Can’t say more,” he concluded.
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