“I believe had Shaheen not injured himself, we would have won the T20 World Cup…”: Iftikhar Ahmed

Cricket is a game where the tiniest of factors can tip the scales between victory and defeat. Pakistan all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed sheds light on how an unexpected injury to Shaheen Shah Afridi during the T20 World Cup final against England had a significant impact on the outcome. In an exclusive interview with Cricwick, Iftikhar shared his perspective on the critical moment that shifted the momentum in England’s favor and expressed his confidence in Pakistan’s ability to tackle spin bowling as they prepare for the upcoming Asia Cup.

In the T20 World Cup final, Pakistan set a target of 138 for England to clinch the title. The Pakistani pacers put up a formidable display, creating challenges for England’s batting lineup early on. However, an injury to key paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi forced captain Babar Azam to make a strategic change. Iftikhar Ahmed, primarily an off-spin bowler, was called upon to fill the void left by Shaheen’s injury.

In the interview, Iftikhar Ahmed candidly admitted that the decision to hand him the ball was a strategic move born out of necessity, considering the match situation and the pitch conditions. He acknowledged that the pitch wasn’t favoring spin, but the absence of other options compelled Babar Azam to turn to him. Unfortunately, this move didn’t work as intended, and the over he bowled gave England the momentum they needed to secure victory.

Iftikhar’s assessment of the final’s turning point underscores the delicate balance that exists in cricket. A twist of fate, symbolized by Shaheen Shah Afridi’s injury, can alter the course of a high-stakes match. While the outcome didn’t favor Pakistan on that occasion, it’s a testament to the unpredictable nature of the sport and the strategic decisions captains must make under pressure.

Iftikhar Ahmed explained, “I believe had Shaheen not injured himself, we would have won the T20 World Cup. It was a tricky pitch and seamers were getting help. It wasn’t a spinner’s pitch, but I had to bowl because we had no option.”

Iftikhar Ahmed’s interview also shed light on Pakistan’s batting prowess against spin bowling. Addressing the notion that Pakistani batsmen struggle against spinners, Iftikhar debunked the stereotype. He highlighted that the team’s upbringing on spin-friendly pitches and their experience in playing spin from an early stage sets them apart. Drawing from encounters in Bangladesh and Dubai, where spin comes into play from the first over, Iftikhar expressed his firm belief that Pakistan’s batters are among the best in handling spin bowling.

Iftikhar added, “These are just false talks that Pakistan batters can’t play spinners. If we don’t play spinners well, then who will play? Will Australia, England, or New Zealand play? We have grown up playing on spin-friendly wickets and have played in Bangladesh and Dubai where you get spin from the first over. I feel Pakistan batters are best players of spin.”

As the cricketing world anticipates the upcoming Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, Pakistan’s resilience in the face of challenges and their strengths against spin bowling are poised to take center stage. Iftikhar Ahmed’s insights offer fans and enthusiasts a glimpse into the mindset of the players and the determination that fuels their performances. With cricket’s intrinsic ability to captivate hearts and minds, the stage is set for another exciting chapter in the storied journey of Pakistan cricket.

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