Former Pakistan captain Aamer Sohail believes that Shahid Afridi wasn’t the perfect man to open for Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999 as he called it was a big gamble which didn’t work. He also revealed the name of the player whom he would have preferred instead of Afridi for the opening batting position if he would lead the Pakistan team in that World Cup tournament.
The 1992 World Cup winners Pakistan participated in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999 under Wasim Akram’s captaincy. While England, Scotland, Netherlands, Ireland and Wales hosted that tournament, Pakistan finished as the runners-up in that tournament.
The Pakistan youngster Shahid Afridi, who made impressive international debut in 1996, was not in the form before the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999 and he also disappointed in that entire tournament. Apart from the last three matches of that tournament (including semi-final and final), Afridi opened during Pakistan’s innings in that entire tournament.
Former captain Aamer Sohail, who led the Pakistan team between 1996 and 1998, believes that Afridi wasn’t the right player for the opening batting position in that tournament. Rather than, Sohail feels that the right-handed batsman Mohammad Yousuf (at that time his name was Yousuf Youhana) should open the Pakistan innings.
Sohail recently told on his YouTube channel, “When I was captain in 1998, we had decided with the selectors that we should have regular openers for the World Cup who can stay at the wicket and play out the new ball.
“Unfortunately, you opted for Shahid Afridi, he had ability on flat low-bouncing tracks where he would take on the bowlers and bring the opposition under pressure. But in demanding conditions, that is a big gamble. He was neither able to bowl nor able to bat. If I was the captain instead of Wasim Akram, I would have preferred Mohammad Yousuf.”
In the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999, Shahid Afridi scored only 93 runs in seven innings with an average of 13.28, including his best knock of 37 runs. Also, the leg-spinner only managed to pick up one wicket in that entire tournament. Meanwhile, Yousuf scored 161 runs in four innings in that same tournament with an average of 53.66, including one half-century (81*).
Aamer Sohail revealed two reasons why Pakistan lost the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999 final
Aamer Sohail also pointed out the two reasons why they were crushed by Australia in the final of that tournament. According to him, those two reasons were – incorrect team combination and deciding to bat first after winning the toss.
Sohail commented, “So, according to me there were two reasons for your loss at the World Cup. One was that your team combination was not correct at all and the other that you opted to bat after winning the toss when you knew that it had been pelting down in London.
“From my cricketing experience and my observation, I can say that we played the entire World Cup like a local team. We had one line-up in a match and a different line-up in the next match with changing batting orders.”
While the Australian bowlers dominated in the first innings, including the Player of the Match leg-spinner Shane Warne‘s 4/33, Pakistan were bundled out for just 132 runs (39 overs). Later, Australia chased down that small target in 20.1 overs after losing two wickets and won that World Cup trophy.
According to Sohail, Saleem Malik also understood what would be the correct decision after winning the toss. Even the captain Wasim Akram assured Malik to choose bowl first after winning the toss, but the skipper ultimately took the other option which didn’t work for them anyway.
Sohail added, “Before the World Cup final, there were reports that it had rained a lot in London. As it is, there is a slope at Lord’s due to which the ball does something all the time. Saleem Malik told me that he had requested Wasim Akram not to bat first after winning the toss else we would be in great difficulty. We should not have exposed our batsmen on a difficult pitch against a confident Australian bowling line-up.
“Saleem Malik told me that Wasim Akram had said that we would definitely bowl first after winning the toss. Because our bowling was doing well at that time, we could have restricted the opposition to a low total and lifted the confidence of our batsmen.”
Aamer Sohail wasn’t selected in that full-member Pakistan squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999.