Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Kane Williamson describes Pakistan as ‘highest class’ after their loss

After handing his team a five-wicket defeat during the T20 World Cup Super 12 match in Sharjah, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson praised Pakistan for being “clinical and classic.”

After being set a meagre 135-run goal, Pakistan maintained their composure, losing only five wickets before romping home in 18.4 overs for their second win in the Super 12 Stages.

In 20 overs, Haris Rauf took a career-best 4-22 to restrict New Zealand to 134-8, which was their target when they were put in to bat.

When Pakistan were 87-5 and needed 48 runs in 5.1 overs, they relied on Shoaib Malik (26 not out) and Asif Ali (26 not out) to get them home in the end.

“If we look at the opponents and how clinical they were in the end, and how they didn’t allow us to time the ball,” Williamson believes, “they were of the highest class.”

Williamson, who struck a sluggish 26-ball 25 in the first innings, and the other New Zealand batsmen struggled to keep the innings moving, with Devon Conway and Daryll Mitchell each getting 27 points.

“For us, it’s about trying to take some of those lessons and apply them in the future.”

Having defeated archrivals India by ten wickets on Sunday in their first match in Dubai, the result gives Pakistan four points from two games so far this season.

Asif was commended by Williamson for his strong striking.

“I remember at one point it was maybe 52 or 30-ish people,” Williamson reflected on the situation. “It was difficult to get the ball in on such a slick surface. Someone like Malik squeezing through and finishing with a couple of soaring strikes is a sight to behold.

“Asif, who came in and hit the ball superbly, much, much sweeter than anyone else on such a difficult surface, was also a standout performer. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out the way we had hoped.”

Asif, who had been criticised for his bad form in recent matches, hammered two sixes in Tim Southee’s 17th over to reduce the target to 24 in three overs. Earlier, Asif had been criticised for his poor form in recent matches.

Williamson expressed disappointment at the loss of pace wonder Lockie Ferguson to a calf injury just days before the match.

Having lost Lockie Ferguson, who is a world-class Twenty20 player, “it’s a massive blow for us, especially on that surface,” said Williamson of Ferguson, who was ruled out of the tournament.

“As a result of the terrible timing, the lads went out and competed extremely effectively, making a number of sound judgments along the road, despite the circumstances. You should be aware that when you play low scoring matches on difficult conditions, such as we did tonight, the margins of victory are really small.

“Unfortunately, when all is said and done, a few wasted opportunities can add up to a lot, and there is much to be learnt from those mistakes. Finally, Pakistan were superb throughout the game, and they finished wonderfully on an extremely challenging surface.”

New Zealand will now meet India in a must-win encounter in Dubai on Sunday — a match that will determine the fate of both sides.

‘We’ve got another tough test against India coming up at a different venue, so we’ve got some more preparation to do there,’ says the coach.

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