'Heads Must Roll': Pakistan Ex-Stars, Media Slam T20 World Cup Exit


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Karachi: Pakistan's ex-stars and media blamed team discord and biased selection for the Asian cricket powerhouse's humiliating first-round exit from the Twenty20 World Cup.

The 2009 champions were knocked out after the USA-Ireland match was abandoned because of rain -- the earliest-ever elimination from a T20 World Cup for Pakistan.

They suffered a shock defeat to first-timers USA before losing to arch-rivals India. Pakistan's only win was against Canada.

"Pakistani players think that if they don't perform well, the coaches will be sacked, and nothing will happen to them," former captain Wasim Akram said during a broadcast after the defeat to India.

"It is time to keep the coaches and change the entire team."

Throughout the tournament, the team was dogged by allegations of internal discord and that some players were in the squad because of favouritism and not merit.

Fans and analysts also criticised the team's management for not picking the right players for the World Cup.

Former player Kamran Akmal said Shadab Khan was chosen to play because he is close to captain Babar Azam, and that meant leaving out leg-spinner Usama Mir, the top wicket-taker in this year's Pakistan Super League.

"When you select players based on friendship, you'll get these results," Akmal told AFP. "Mir should have been in the squad... That was a big injustice."

Reports of discord over the swap also marred Pakistan's warm-up for the World Cup. They lost to Ireland, lost 2-0 to England and drew 2-2 against a depleted New Zealand.

"Some poor administrative and selection decisions in the run-up to World Cup resulted in the team's inability to progress," said the English-language newspaper The News.

'I am disgusted'

The 2024 edition marked a dramatic fall for Pakistan from the last World Cup two years ago, when they reached the final.

"I am disgusted and will not watch the World Cup any more," said Mohammad Asim, a Pakistani fan.

"The team selection was biased and based on friendship," said the 19-year-old university student.

And Salim, a taxi driver, said the team was "finished" after losing to a new side like the USA.

Pakistan are due to host next year's Champions Trophy, and there are calls for a major shake-up in the team and the management.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Mohsin Naqvi -- who is also the country's interior minister -- said changes were imminent.

"Pakistan team needs a major surgery," he told local media after the India defeat.

"We must endeavour to make the Pakistani cricket team one of the best in the world. The nation does not expect such a disappointing performance."

But one former captain said the board is part of the problem.

"Before we shift the blame to the players, first the PCB and its governing body needs to be sacked," Rashid Latif wrote on the social media platform X.

"These are the people responsible for selecting the players. Heads must roll, but would they?"

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The Peninsula

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