Babar Azam offers
consolation to teammate,
Rizwan’s ICU tale


DUBAI: Pakistan captain Babar Azam offered consolation to teammate Hasan Ali whose costly mistake in the field allowed Matthew Wade to secure Australia’s thrilling victory in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-final on Thursday.

Having conceded 44 runs in four wicketless overs, Hasan had more disappointment to face in the dramatic closing stages of the see-saw match at the Dubai International Stadium.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam delivers heartening dressing-room speech after T20 WC exit (Twitter grab)

With Australia needing 22 runs off the last two overs, Wade took a wild swing at Shaheen Shah Afridi’s third ball and sent a skier towards Hasan who spilled the catch on the leg-side.

Wade responded by hitting three sixes in a row to complete an excellent chase against the tournament’s form side.

“If the catch was taken then the scenario would have been different but it is part of the game,” Babar told reporters.

“He is one of my main bowlers and he has won many matches for Pakistan. Players drop catches but he is a fighter and I will back him.

Pakistan Cricket team

“Everybody doesn’t perform every day. There is a day when one performs. It was just not his day. He is down and we will lift his mood.”

Babar felt 176-4 after being put into bat was a decent score by the 2009 champions.

“We started off well with a good total but unfortunately the finish wasn’t good,” Babar said. “The way we played the tournament and boys fought, I keep the belief that we will continue with this.”

A team doctor revealed opening batter Mohammad Rizwan, who top-scored for Pakistan with 67, had spent two days in hospital following a chest infection before being declared fit for the semi-final.

“The way he (Rizwan) played today he showed that he’s a team man,” Babar said. “I am very confident about his attitude and his performance.”

Vice-captain Shadab Khan also voiced support for Hasan, calling him a champion and urging fans not to resort to “personal attacks” against him in an Instagram post hashtagged #WeStandWithHasanAli.

This combination of photos shows Hasan Ali dropping Matthew Wade off the third ball of the 19th over in the World T20 semi-final in Dubai on Thursday.

“To all the fans, everyone goes through tough times, we are all human beings capable of errors. Remember the joy Hasan has given you, don’t do personal attacks please. He is Pakistan’s match-winner,” Khan wrote.

Mohammad Rizwan in ICU

Cricket figures and fans have hailed wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan as a “warrior” after officials revealed he was in hospital with a severe chest infection before taking the field to score a brave half-century in defeat to Australia at the T20 World Cup.

Rizwan top-scored for Pakistan with 67 from 52 balls in Thursday’s semi-final in Dubai to help the Green Shirts post 176, but Australia reeled in the runs to reach Sunday’s final against New Zealand.

Opener Mohammad Rizwan in ICU a day before of semi-final against Australia

The team doctor said Rizwan was admitted to hospital on Tuesday and spent two nights in intensive care.

“He made an incredible recovery and was deemed fit before the match,” doctor Najeebullah Soomro said.

“We can see his great determination and tenacity that shows his spirit of performing for the country. And we can see how he performed today.”

Opener Rizwan showed no sign of illness, clubbing four sixes and three fours before falling to paceman Mitchell Starc.

Captain Babar Azam, who opened the batting with Rizwan, said the 29-year-old was a “little bit down” before the match.

“But when I asked him about his health he said, ‘no, I will play,’” said Babar.

During his innings, Rizwan became the first player to score 1,000 runs in T20 internationals in a calendar year.

Scoring 281 for the tournament at an average of 70.25, Rizwan is second only to Babar (303) on the World Cup runs list.

After the match, Rizwan tweeted, “Diya jalaye rakhna hai (have to keep the lamp burning).”

“This is a warrior,” said Pakistan batting coach Matthew Hayden, the former Australia Test opener.

“He has been brilliant through [the tournament] and he’s got great courage, as has Babar. Fantastic tonight from him.”

‘Massive respect’

Prior to the match, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had not shared the full extent of Rizwan’s illness and said only that the wicketkeeper-batsman and his teammate Shoaib Malik had displayed symptoms of cold and had fever but were declared fit after feeling better.

When the details were shared, sportspersons and fans alike took to Twitter to express their admiration and respect for Rizwan — whose name was among the top 10 trends on the social media site.