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'We were short by 10-15 runs' - Iftikhar Ahmed
Pakistan tour of Australia 2019

'We were short by 10-15 runs' - Iftikhar Ahmed

Iftikhar Ahmed struck a quickfire half-century that powered Pakistan to a fighting total of 150 in the second T20I against Australia but Steve Smith's onslaught deprived the visitors' bowling attack to stop the rampant juggernaut. 

Power hitting is an area of concern for Pakistan but Iftikhar denied the scepticism around the weak link.

"I went with positive intent. I am not the only power hitter in the side. There are other players in the team who are power hitters as well," Iftikhar said.

Historically, teams from Asia have struggled to acclimatize to the testing conditions in Australia owing to the prodigious bounce and pace. That being said, quality batsmen adapt quicker than the rest. 

"The pitch wasn't easy to bat on but I [always] go with the same positive mindset and I play according to the ball. If I get an opportunity, I go for the big shot and that helped me bat at a quick strike rate," Iftikhar said.

Also Read: 'Power-hitting is my strength' - Khushdil Shah vows to play his natural game

In hindsight, the second T20I could have gone right down to the wire had Pakistan managed a bit more runs. 150 didn't prove much for powerful Australia batting line-up. 

"I think we were 10-15 runs short of a good total. However, our bowling has the ability to defend such scores but it's okay, it happens in cricket. Also, Steve Smith is a world-class batsman, he took the game away from us," Iftikhar opined.

There is a notion in Pakistan media and fans that with all-powerful Misbah-ul-Haq taking the reigns of the head coach and chief selector dual role, he might entrench a defensive mindset in players but Iftikhar has quashed all such platitudinous jibber jabber. He is also willing to chime in at any batting number in the order.

"Misbah wanted us to score 180-200, he never says us to score around 120s. Misbah himself is a positive person and he always urges us to go with a strong mindset.

"I can play at any number, it depends on the team's requirement. Whenever I get an opportunity I will try to perform to the best of my ability," Iftikhar remarked.

Iftikhar was all praise for his nemesis Steve Smith - who scored a swashbuckling unbeaten 80 run innings - and opined he was the major difference between the two sides. 

A seemingly cynic journalist with a poorly thought question regarding Iftikhar's effort going in vain didn't perturb the fiery batsman as he responded with a tranquil gaze.

"No, I don't think my runs were wasted. 150 were enough I guess but I think Smith was outstanding; he performs wherever he plays and he turned the match.

Players from the subcontinent take a fancy to spinners and try to dominate them given the fact that they are brought up on spinning tracks. 

Nonetheless, this doesn't apply fully to Pakistan who have been found wanting against quality wrist spinners as demonstrated by the recent collapse against Sri Lanka in Lahore where Wanindu Hasaranga wreaked havoc on the hosts and was adjudicated man of the series for his quality leg-spin bowling.

"Asian players play spinners well generally and our plan was to charge when spinners come to bowl. 

"For the next game at Perth, it depends on the captain and coach to make any changes or not but we will strive to level the series," Iftikhar said.