Pakistan’s ‘emotional’ T20 World Cup campaign can ‘reinvigorate nation’: Hayden

The Men in Green will face England in the final on Sunday

November 11, 2022
Hayden speaks during a press conference — AFP

MELBOURNE: Pakistan cricket team’s mentor Matthew Hayden has termed the ongoing T20 World Cup an opportunity for Pakistan cricket team to set nation alight and alive again through their performances.

Talking to media at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) after Pakistan Cricket team’s practice session, the former Australian cricketer said that the T20 World Cup final on Sunday between Pakistan and England will be a contest between a quality bowling and quality batting.

“It's a very emotional campaign,” he said about Pakistan.

“When it comes to these huge tournaments, we know what it means. It means the opportunity to lift the World Cup, it means the opportunity to set nations alight and alive again, reinvigorate a nation through its national team's performance,” he added.

Hayden also highlighted the team bonding and how players treat each other on and off the field.

“A beautiful metaphor for this team that really, at its heart has got raw talent, mixed with the passion of a nation that loves the game,” he said.

“The highs have been really solid in this tournament for Pakistan. I think there's been some really key performances for mine the other day was off the field when Babar was throwing in warm up balls to Rizwan. To me, that's very reflective of a culture that's working, hoping that and building that commonality. I think that's a beautiful moment,” he said.

Speaking about Ramiz Raja’s pep-talk to the players at the net sessions ahead of the final of ICC T20 World Cup 2022, Matthew Hayden said that the PCB Chairman was reliving some memories of 1992 World Cup adding that current lot of players will have similar opportunities in their life.

“It'll be an important chapter of Pakistan cricket as the 92 campaign was the emergence of another superpower. And, one of the most influential cricketers of all time, Imran Khan, is doing great things, celebrating democracy is an important part of life, and he's doing that like a champion,” the mentor of Pakistan Cricket team said.

Hayden said that there's been quite a lot of positive energy and also mixed with some criticism, which he believes to be worthy for an international side.

“I think you can't come to a tournament like this and expect to have it your entire way. Our last campaign was very smooth in the T20 World Cup, we won every game convincingly, sort of clinical like we saw our semi-final performance, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything until you strike the big game. So, here we are in the big game. We've taken on board the criticisms, we've enjoyed the successes and the failures, both. And, I think we're ready to play,” he said.

‘Good leaders’ Babar and Rizwan

He also praised Pakistan’s opening duo Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam and highlighted their performance not only reflect their on-field relationships but also says a lot about their off the field chemistry.

“Both are very good leaders. Both men are highly geared towards nationalistic pride, and their commitment to Islam as well, they've got each other's backs, two is always better than one and that's why the great partnerships are recognized. That's why you'll see every player stand up with a 50 or 100 run partnership because it matters.”

“These are key factors for Rizzi [Rizwan] and Babar. And that's it's generational and cricket as well. You know, who will ever forget that? Hey, isn't great, its partnership, you know, something which I was, and Justin [Langer], we're always like chasing that partnership. Never got there. But that's, that's in our heads was important,” he said.

Talking about the Sunday’s final between Pakistan and England at the ICC T20 World Cup, the former Australian cricketer said that it would be quality fast bowling versus quality batting.

“We've got four quicks that can really make impact and create some sustainable damage inside 20 overs. One of the things that I think that India was really missing last night also in the spin bowling department was, you know, a leg spinning option, a sixth bowling option. This Pakistan side has six genuine options that are seventh as well, you know, should Ifti [Iftikhar] be required. So, I think the bases are covered,” he said.

“I think both sides actually have got very equal setups when you look at the England setup as well. They've got genuinely six bowling options and the handy options of having batting all-rounders as well,” he added.

Replying to a question, Matthew Hayden said that teams get their due diligence done ahead of each contest so it doesn’t matter if two sides have played recently and that's why you always hear the cliche in sport that it's on the day that matters.

“And it's 100%, right?” he suggested.

“It's on the day, who, who handles the pressure, it's on the day, who's got their game preparation spot on. It's on the day who can handle their emotions on the day, how their own individual games set up the play. It's how they start and then it's also how they finish. So, you know all those cliches of sport they matter in the big games, and that's why you often see in semi-finals and finals, one side capitulate, you know beyond the point of recognition almost made, who would have thought last night team India were defeated? So anything can happen. But generally you got to have your stuff together and I think Team Pakistan has done that well over the last couple of weeks,” Hayden concluded.

Faizan Lakhani is Deputy Editor (Sports) at Geo News.