‘Heartbroken’ Pakistan still hurt by India loss, says Iftikhar

Pakistani Iftikhar Ahmed admitted on Wednesday that his side was “heartbroken” and still hurt from their painful opening defeat to arch-rival India at the Twenty20 World Cup.

An epic 82 not out from Virat Kohli propelled India to a stunning win in the final ball before a frenzied crowd of over 90,000 at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Pakistan will have little room for further mistakes when they play in Perth Zimbabwe on Thursday, in a match they are expected to win.

“The pain remains after losing such a big game. We were heartbroken,” said middle-order batsman Iftikhar, who hit 51 in Pakistan’s 159-8, but it just wasn’t enough.

Iftikhar said morale was high despite the ongoing heartbreak and praised skipper Babar Azam for his handling of the team in the wake of the loss in India.

A video of Azam’s pep talk with his broken side went viral.

“We have to learn from our mistakes. Don’t fall, the tournament has just started. We lost as a team and we will win as a team,” Azam said in the much-watched video.

“The way Babar and management supported the players was good. Babar and coaches told us that ‘it was not our last game, everyone was trying their best,'” Iftikhar said on Wednesday.

“So our morale is high.”

Pakistan will be very keen to beat Zimbabwe – which ranks 11th in the world after Pakistan’s three – and let their World Cup kick off.

Pakistan also needs a win for their confidence.

“Zimbabwe is an international team and we need to play strong against them like any other team,” said 32-year-old Iftikhar.

“Important to play well and keep the confidence. The players are hungry to perform.”

Pace bowler Haris Rauf threw well in the MCG until he was hit by Kohli over two straight sixes at the end of the 19th in a game-changing moment.

“The Australian fields are fast and resilient and we have prepared for that,” said Iftikhar.

“Haris is our main strike bowler and we expect him to bowl better here and win for Pakistan. “

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