‘Beating Pakistan a big achievement, but focus on India now’

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You would have been forgiven for thinking that Monank Patel enjoys results and performances like this every other week, such was the calm and professional manner with which he dealt with the world’s media following USA’s shock T20 World Cup win over Pakistan in Dallas.

Patel showed a level of control behind the microphone that almost matched the quality he showed with the bat a few hours earlier, top-scoring with an excellent 50 to help his team towards their famous Super Over win.

USA captain Monank Patel in action. Photo: X/Facebook

‘Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose’ is a saying synonymous with a certain sport in Texas, and it was the USA cricket team who lived out that mantra under the Thursday Morning Lights in Dallas, showing good thinking and impressive composure to punish an under-fire Pakistan on the world’s biggest stage. And they have no intention of this being their last win at the tournament either.

USA have won T20 Internationals against full member nations before – twice against Bangladesh and once against Ireland. But this is undeniably their biggest ever result, and it sends them top of Group A with fixtures against India and Ireland still to come, with a spot in the next round of the tournament now very much a possibility for the tournament co-hosts.

“We don’t want to keep our emotions too high or too low, we’ll enjoy the win today and make sure that the next day we come fresh,” the USA captain said after the match.

“Before the tournament I said that we want to focus on one game at a time, and our focus will be on playing against India now.”

If anyone thought this was a flash in the pan for USA, then think again. This team have every intention of reaching the Super 8 stage, and with two wins from two they now have every chance too.

But there will be plenty of time to look ahead, and even the USA captain wasn’t able to play down just how big this result against Pakistan is for the sport in his country.

“It was an unbelievable performance from us. Beating Pakistan, it’s a big achievement.

USA celebrates dismissing Pakistan’s Rizwan in Texas, on June 6, 2024. Photo: AFP

“I would say it’s a big day in USA and for the whole USA cricket community too.

“Of course beating Pakistan in the World Cup is going to be open many doors for us and people in the US cricket community. Obviously hosting the World Cup in the USA and performing here as a team helps us to grow cricket in the country.”

Right from the start of the match, after winning the toss and opting to bowl first, USA let Pakistan know they were in for a proper game.

“In the huddle we talked about how there’s no pressure for us, all of the pressure is in front of Pakistan. We knew that we didn’t have all the support from the crowd, Pakistan had more in the crowd. I thought if we played good cricket that would backfire on them and they’d be more under pressure.

Set a target of 160 to win, USA looked well on their way to victory with Andries Gous (35 from 26) and Monank (50 from 38) taking the score into triple figures with just one wicket lost.

But Pakistan’s four-strong pace attack hit back in the death overs, with USA in the end needing a boundary off the final ball of the innings to take the match to a Super Over.

“But the way we kept our nerves, in the Super Over particularly, scoring 18 runs gave us a big upper hand to defend the target.”

Aaron Jones continued his fine form to help the side rack up 18 runs in a Super Over that saw the pressure truly tell on a Pakistan side who made a string of errors, both with the ball and in the field to gift the hosts almost half of those runs.

And USA’s clear-thinking was on display again when they went away from their biggest bowling star with the ball, giving their Super Over to Saurabh Netravalkar, who stuck to the plan superbly.

Perfect plans and near-flawless execution leaves USA sitting top of Group A after two games, and this high-quality outfit have plenty of time to draw up their next match strategy, with their follow-up game not until Wednesday June 12 against India in New York.

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