Pakistan cricket team went through heavy criticism after conceding the ODI series to England 0-3. The more humiliating fact was that the England side was without 20 of their first-choice players. On the other hand, Pakistan was at full strength. Hence, ex-cricketers like Shoaib Akhtar had some unkind things to say about this current Pakistani setup.
After the uninspiring performance in ODIs, the Babar Azam-led side went through plenty of flak from both fans and former cricketers like Ramiz Raja, Tanveer Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, and Saeed Ajmal. But the harsh words from Shoaib Akhtar would have hurt them the most.
The Rawalpindi express labeled the Pakistan team’s performance as “average”. “It’s a shameful performance. Our board is average. It brings average people, the management is average so obviously, they are going to build an average team.”
“Crowd are coming to the ground but after watching such performances, the fan following will never grow. There is no star to inspire the youngsters. Then how can you bring the next Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi or Wasim Akram? You have to build a brand,” Akhtar had recently stated on his YouTube channel.
But Pakistan scripted a historic turnaround in the first T20I in Nottingham on Friday (16 July). Scoring their highest ever T20 score, Pakistan were able to shut down their critics. Captain Babar Azam led from the front by top-scoring with 85 with wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan (63) , continuing their good form. While other batsmen chipped in with quick runs at the end.
England tried their best to chase the record target down but Pakistan bowlers continuously took wickets. Pakistani fielders also supported their bowlers this time. This broke down their chase. Pakistan registered a convincing 31-run win to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Azhar Ali’s clever dig at Shoaib Akhtar
Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain and batter Azhar Ali recently posted a cryptic tweet taking a sly dig at Akhtar over his “fan following will never grow” remark. “Ye fans kisko dekhnain aye they? (Who did these fans come for?), tweeted Ali, alongside a bunch of fans present at Trent Bridge during Pakistan’s victory. Joining him, Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir tweeted “msg kar k poch lo ajju bhai who bata sakte hain jis ne bola tha’. (Ask the one who made the comments).
🤣🤣🤣🤣msg kar k poch lo ajju bhi woh bata sakte hain jis ne bola tha 🤪🤪🤪
— Mohammad Amir (@iamamirofficial) July 17, 2021
Nevertheless, after the impressive win in the first T20I, Shoaib Akhtar was praising the efforts of the team. He went on to reckon that Pakistan can win the T20 World Cup. He also had some unkind words to say about England’s skipper Eoin Morgan, who previously said Pakistan’s series is not a priority for them.
“England may have underestimated the Pakistan team. Maybe they didn’t understand that Pakistan is one of the best T20 teams in the world. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Pakistan wins the T20 World Cup this year. England needs to realize that the World Cup is going to be in the UAE and it is not going to be easy for them.”
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