T20 World Cup
T20 World Cup, Shan Masood explains his country’s modest miracle of overcoming two losses to reach the final four.
The first semi-final of the T20 World Cup pits two teams with very contrasting experiences in the tournament so far. Whereas New Zealand’s overwhelming win over Australia in their initial game placed them immediately in charge of their group, Pakistan’s participation in the last four seems like a mini miracle after losing their first two games against India and Zimbabwe.
Even participating in those games was exceptional for Shan Masood, who was struck full on in the head by a hard shot from Mohammad Nawaz during a net practice before the opener.
“I removed my helmet and walked through the nets to fetch some water when I heard someone shout, ‘Watch out for T20 World Cup!'” “And before I could do anything, something smacked my ear,” he explains. “When I fell, my initial thoughts were that it had struck me pretty hard. I assumed it would be a fracture or something. I was transported to the hospital, but the scan revealed just bruises.
“The next day, I wasn’t permitted to train, but I passed every single concussion test, so I was OK.” I had no practice before the game, so I attempted to reframe it. ‘Look, anything could have happened,’ I replied. I may have ended up in the hospital at the T20 World Cup. I could have gone home. But I’m here and I’m playing, so enjoy the moment and make the most of it.”
The event was fantastic, taking place in a sold-out and thrillingly raucous MCG. Masood hit a half-century but was so preoccupied with his personal predicament and performance that he scarcely noticed anything else at the T20 World Cup. “I remember some parts of it, just seeing how enormous the stadium was and how filled it was,” he adds. “There were clearly a lot of Pakistani sympathizers.”
Pakistan scored 159 and seemed set to defend it for most of India’s run chase. But Virat Kohli’s incredible effort and an unbelievable nine-ball, two-wicket, 16-run final over flipped the game on its head.
“It took one of the finest players in history to go on perhaps his best effort to steal the game away from us,” Masood adds. “That says volumes about how the squad performed.” But, obviously, a World Cup is squeaky bum time, and the outcome is everything at the T20 World Cup. We knew we played terrific cricket, but we nearly had to win every game after that.”
Instead, they missed the next one, another incredible battle, by a single run to Zimbabwe. “We honestly believed we were going to go into this game to express ourselves because we played very fantastic cricket against India,” Masood recalls. “When the match was over, I couldn’t believe it, losing on the final ball again.” And it takes a courageous group, a group with character, to recover from there.”
Despite victories against the Netherlands and South Africa in their next two matches, Pakistan could only advance if they won their last game and the Proteas lost to the Dutch at the T20 World Cup. That was the opening game of a double header in Adelaide, with Pakistan’s match versus Bangladesh following.
The South Africa game began at 10.30 a.m. Before the squad arrived at the venue, Masood watched the early overs on his phone. “When you get to the ground, everyone is usually committed in their talents and preparedness,” he explains. “A lot of men will go to the nets, a lot of guys will go outside, warm up, and get ready.” People will consume food. But those who went to the nets returned because they just wanted to watch the game – and the game had become entertaining.”
South Africa continued to lose wickets as the Netherlands reached 158. “There were all of the many feelings that a game might cause,” Masood explains at the T20 World Cup. “The same game may be life-changing in a positive manner for one person while being damaging to another.” We continued watching, and it was surreal, disbelief, because I really believed South Africa was one of the top sides in the competition.”
South Africa fell by 13 runs, and Pakistan took most of their opportunity, defeating Bangladesh with 11 balls to spare, with Masood striking the winning runs. “The main lesson for us has been that cricket is a tremendous leveller and a great humbler,” he adds. “Never take anything for granted.”
“In so many ways, we were humbled at the T20 World Cup.” We lost our first two games and are currently in the semi-finals with little to brag about. We are grateful and relieved to get another opportunity.
“It seemed a little strange because, sure, we made a few of errors, we ended up losing two tight games, and we might have gone out without really having an opportunity to redeem ourselves.” Now we have the opportunity.”
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