'Black day': Pakistan reels from USA T20 World Cup stunner

"There can be no bigger shock for Pakistan cricket than this," said former international Sikander Bakht. "It is like Pakistan beating America at basketball."
Pakistan's Shadab Khan, left, walks off the field as players of United States celebrate after their win in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match (Photo | AP)
Pakistan's Shadab Khan, left, walks off the field as players of United States celebrate after their win in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match (Photo | AP)

KARACHI: Pakistan cricket fans were hurt and angry Friday after a stunning T20 World Cup loss to hosts the United States, describing it as a historic rock-bottom for their beloved national sport.

"I am distraught," said retired banker Raju Jameel, who was close to tears after staying up late to watch the match on big screens in a shopping district in Karachi.

"It's hurtful and shameful, and there must be a thorough investigation of this defeat."

A Super Over thriller in Texas saw T20 World Cup debutants the United States beat the 2022 finalists and 2009 winners in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition.

"There can be no bigger shock for Pakistan cricket than this," said former international and now cricket analyst Sikander Bakht on Geo TV, the country's most popular private news channel.

"It is like Pakistan beating America at basketball."

Pakistan's Shadab Khan, left, walks off the field as players of United States celebrate after their win in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match (Photo | AP)
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'No worse day'

While cricket is a national obsession in Pakistan, it barely registers in the United States, leaving most Americans either bewildered or apathetic over their momentous victory.

Commentators resorted to baseball metaphors to explain the magnitude of the Americans' achievement to domestic audiences.

But Pakistani fans had hunched over screens of all sizes late into the night, expecting to celebrate an easy win.

Instead, Friday was a "black day in Pakistan cricket", according to former batsman Basit Ali, who blamed the loss on poor squad selection by captain Babar Azam.

"He has been consistently selecting players who are close to him and that has put paid to Pakistan's chances," he told AFP.

"I think our cricket has not seen a worst day," added former Pakistan wicketkeeper and batsman Kamran Akmal.

In one of Islamabad's marketplaces, 38-year-old Mohammad Amjad Abbasi counted off the decades of Pakistan's international cricket experience compared to the fledging USA side.

"Our Pakistan team has become weak," he told AFP. "I don't enjoy watching matches anymore.

"Their performance is disappointing, the way they play in the end is always humiliating for us."

Both teams made 159 in their standard 20 overs of the Group A match at Grand Prairie, near Dallas, Texas.

Then competition co-hosts the United States, batting first in a Super Over, made an 18 that featured several wides and runs off panic-stricken overthrows.

Pakistan were unable to match them, and the 7,000-seat converted minor-league baseball park in the Dallas suburbs erupted with celebrations around 1:00am Pakistan time.

"This time it felt like our team was the new one, and USA was a world-class team," said 54-year-old government employee Dilshad Akhtar in Islamabad.

"It can't be that we can play this badly."

Pakistan's Shadab Khan, left, walks off the field as players of United States celebrate after their win in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match (Photo | AP)
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'Sloppy Pakistan'

So little was the interest in the game in the US that it was not broadcast on TV there. But photos of Pakistan's fumbling performance were plastered across Friday's morning papers in the South Asian nation.

"Disastrous start as minnows US edge out Pakistan," read a headline in the English-language Dawn newspaper, considered the national paper of record.

"Babar Azam's men have been pinned to the wall at the very start of their campaign," it said, calling it a "humbling loss".

"US stun sloppy Pakistan," said The News International newspaper.

Pakistan next play arch-rivals India in New York on Sunday in the competition co-hosted with the West Indies, with the final slated for June 29 -- if Pakistan get that far.

The 54-year-old Master Saifullah in Islamabad was sceptical that disillusioned fans would tune in ever again.

"Honestly, I just don't feel like watching them anymore," he said.

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