T20 final an opportunity for Pakistan to set nation alight and alive: Matthew Hayden

Pakistan cricket team’s mentor Matthew Hayden speaking during a press conference in Melbourne on November 11, 2022. — Provided by the reporter 
  • Matthew Hayden says final will be contest between quality bowling and quality batting.
  • Says there’s been quite a lot of positive energy also mixed with some criticism.
  • Praises Babar-Rizwan duo, saying they got each other’s backs. 

MELBOURNE: Pakistan cricket team’s mentor Matthew Hayden has termed the T20 World Cup an opportunity for the Pakistan cricket team to set the nation alight and alive again through their performances.

Talking to the media at Melbourne Cricket Ground after the team’s practice session, the former Australian cricketer said that the T20 World Cup final on Sunday between Pakistan and England will be a contest between quality bowling and quality batting.

“It’s a very emotional campaign,” he said about Pakistan.

“When it comes to these huge tournaments, we know what it means. It means the opportunity to lift the World Cup, it means the opportunity to set nations alight and alive again, reinvigorate a nation through its national team’s performance,” he said.

Hayden also highlighted the team’s bonding and how players treat other on and off the field.

“A beautiful metaphor for this team that really, at its heart has got raw talent, mixed with the passion of a nation that loves the game,” he said.

“The highs have been really solid in this tournament for Pakistan. I think there have been some really key performances…for me, the other day was off the field when Babar was throwing in warm-up balls to Rizwan, to me, that’s very reflective of a culture that’s working, hoping and building that commonality. I think that’s a beautiful moment,” he said.

Speaking about Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja’s pep-talk to the players at the net sessions ahead of the final of the T20 World Cup, Hayden said that the former opener was reliving some memories of the 1992 World Cup and that a current lot of players will have similar opportunities in their life.

“It’ll be an important chapter of Pakistan cricket as the 92 campaign was the emergence of another superpower. One of the most influential cricketers of all time, Imran Khan, is doing great things, celebrating democracy is an important part of life, and he’s doing that like a champion,” the mentor of the team said.

Hayden said that there’s been quite a lot of positive energy also mixed with some criticism which he believes to be worthy for an international side.

“I think you can’t come to a tournament like this and expect to have it your entire way. Our last campaign was very smooth in the T20 World Cup, we won every game convincingly, sort of clinical like we saw our semifinal performance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything until you strike the big game. So here we are in the big game. We’ve taken on board the criticisms, and we’ve enjoyed the successes and the failures, both. And I think we’re ready to play,” he said.

He also praised Pakistan’s opening duo Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam and highlighted their performance not only reflect their on-field relationships but also says a lot about their off-the-field chemistry.

“Both are very good leaders. Both men are highly geared towards nationalistic pride, and their commitment to Islam as well, they’ve got each other’s backs, two are always better than one and that’s why great partnerships are recognised. That’s why you’ll see every player stand up with a 50 or 100-run partnership because it matters.”

“These are key factors for Rizzi and Babar. And that it’s generational and cricket as well. You know, who will ever forget that? Hey, isn’t great, it’s a partnership, you know, something which I was, and Justin, we’re always like chasing that partnership. Never got there. But what’s in our heads was important,” he said.

Talking about Sunday’s final between Pakistan and England, the former Australian cricketer said that it would be quality fast bowling versus quality batting.

“We’ve got four quicks that can really make an impact and create some sustainable damage inside 20 overs. One of the things that I think that India was really missing last night also in the spin bowling department was a leg-spinning option, a sixth bowling option. 

“Pakistan side has six genuine options that are seventh as well, should Ifti be required. I think the bases are covered. I think both sides actually have got very equal setups when you look at the England setup as well. They’ve got genuinely six bowling options and the handy options of having batting all-rounders as well,” he said.

Replying to a question, Hayden said that teams get their due diligence done ahead of each contest so it doesn’t matter if two sides have played recently and that’s why you always hear the cliche in sports that it’s on the day that matters.

“And it’s 100%, right?” he suggested.

“It’s on the day who handles the pressure, it’s on the day who’s got their game preparation spot on. It’s on the day who can handle their emotions, and how their own individual games set up the play. It’s how they start and then it’s also how they finish. So, you know all those cliches of the sport, they matter in the big games, and that’s why you often see in semifinals and finals, one side capitulates beyond the point of recognition almost made, who would have thought last night India were defeated wicketless. So anything can happen. But generally, you got to have your stuff together and I think team Pakistan has done that well over the last couple of weeks,” Hayden concluded.

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