ISLAMABAD   -   Former Test cricketer Iqbal Qasim paid glowing tributes to Imad Wasim and Wahab Riaz for saving Pakistan cricket team’s blushes against Afghanistan and keeping their hopes alive ICC World Cup semi-finals.

Talking to The Nation, Qasim, who was also PCB chief selector, said: “I am surprised that why Pakistan cricket team is solely relying on miracles and prayers of entire nation for winning even very easy matches, which they have won utmost difficulty. First, they should have easily beaten New Zealand with at least 5 overs to spare as they had a lot of wickets in hand, but the set batsmen kept on consuming precious deliveries and in the end, Pakistan team had to struggle hard to win the match.

“By winning matches in the last overs, they didn’t get the much-needed boost in run-rate. Now the situation is heading towards crucial aspect that will be run-rate. If the points of New Zealand are same after last league round matches, then run-rate will matter but the team management didn’t pay any heed towards this vital factor,” he added.

He said: “I can’t understand why Pakistan cricket team and entire nation was expecting favours from India or any other team. We have to earn a place in the semifinal, rather than expecting others to help us. We must perform on the field. We could have restricted Afghanistan to less than 150, but Sarfraz failed to go all-out attacking and missed the trick.

“If one team plays full quota of overs, it is bound to score a total well beyond 200 plus runs. Why didn’t Sarfaz apply pressure and why did he keep the main bowlers out of attack. Had Aamir and Wahab introduced earlier, they could have blown away Afghans with their pace and swinging deliveries. What was the purpose of introducing Hafeez? There is dire need to utilize all the options very carefully, if Pakistan team wants to qualify for semifinals,” he added.

Qasim said: “I don’t know why spinners were in the side. Everybody was aware of Headingly track, which was hard and Afghans are never known for playing fast bowlers well. The short pitch deliveries are their weakest link. If Pakistan team had the likes of rookie pacer Muhammad Hussnain, the position of the team could have been far better. Why is Hussnain warming the bench and why he isn’t being included in the playing XI? It makes no sense of having a youngster and he is not given opportunity to polish his skills. Afghanistan was the perfect stage where Hussnain should have been in the playing XI.

“The openers are not delivering for the team. If I were the captain or head coach, I would have taken action and ensured one of the openers Imam or Fakhar make way for Hussnain. The amount of runs these openers are scoring and that too inconsistently, any other player could score same or even more runs for the team. Pakistani batsmen gave too much respect to Mujeeb and Nabi, while they handled Rashid quite well. Same should have been applied on other two spinners as well,” he remarked.

The former cricketer said Pakistan cricket team is winning majority of matches just because of prayers of entire nation or else they would have lost against South Africa and New Zealand while it was very close escape by green caps against the spirited Afghans. They had nothing to lose against Pakistan, and this factor was important, while on the other hand, Pakistan team got relaxed and took Afghans lightly. This careless attitude must be addressed.