ISLAMABAD    -    Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif said that national team just wanted to ensure two points against Afghanistan and forgot about the important aspect of improving the run-rate, which will matter the most, while finalizing the semifinalists.

Talking to The Nation, wicketkeeper batsman Latif said: “I feel Pakistan team missed simple trick against the Afghans. After getting early wickets, Pakistan allowed them to stage comeback in the match and didn’t apply the pressure, which could stop them from scoring 200 plus total.

“Nobody bothered to keep an eye on net run-rate. I have mentioned that New Zealand could still be out of the ICC World Cup as they had 11 points and they had to play some very tough matches. Pakistan team has to improve their run-rate, but nothing happened. The team management was more concern about winning matches against South Africa, New Zealand and Afghanistan and was content with two points,” he added.

He said that so-called pundits don’t have any idea about what will come next. “Either they were predicting Pakistan would be out of the semifinal race or they were predicting that Pakistan would win the World Cup. But nobody has any clue what was exact situation. Nobody has set sights on New Zealand and Bangladesh. People took them very lightly and forgot that they are on the rise and can pose serious challenge to any given team, just like they did against mighty Australians.

“The things can be very interesting in next few games, which are yet to come. Australians are looking favourites to grab top position in the semifinal race, while Indians are occupying second spot. It means if Pakistan make it to the semifinals, they will most likely to face India there, while very crucial and mouth-watering match between England and New Zealand is yet to be played. It will be must win match for both the teams. Pakistan team has to beat Bangladesh with a heavy margin to improve their run-rate and also need favour from either England or New Zealand to book a place in the semis,” he added.

The former cricketer said: “In case Australia lost against South Africa, India can finish top of the table, which means England-Australia semifinal. Still anything is possible. It is true that for the time being, Australia and India have qualified for the semifinals, while the remaining two places are still to grab by any team. It is almost four-way battle for the third and fourth place on offer.

“The situation is very interesting and I feel destiny is not purely in Pakistan team’s hands now as they have made their task very difficult. They must have won the match against Black Caps and Afghanistan with big margins, but they couldn’t do so. Now they can’t do anything. They have to win and keep their fingers crossed and hope for the best for semifinal race,” he commented.

He said: “I feel both Pakistan and Afghanistan played very badly, but it was Pakistan, who in the end prevailed, thanks mainly to extraordinary Imad Wasim and Wahab Riaz. The things were looking grim for Pakistan, but both batted sensibly and showed other top batsmen how to play in such tough conditions. Afghan skipper blunders also didn’t help his team’s cause, or else it would have been game and world cup over for Pakistan team.

“Highly irresponsible and careless approach of Pakistan team has almost all but end their road to semifinal, but luck, helped by poor captaincy of Afghanistan skipper and drop catches, gifted Pakistan victory. Now top order has to deliver for the team and country, or else Bangladesh may not give Pakistan any second chance and majority of pundits could be left red-faced. Pakistan must go all-out attacking and leave the rest,” Latif concluded.