Pakistan Reacts to Defeat Against U.S. in T20 World Cup

Between sips of milk tea at a cafe in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday morning, Jaffer Ahmed dissected the national cricket team’s surprise loss to the United States.

“This is unbelievable and embarrassing,” Ahmed, 26, said as he took bites of bread and lamented the defeat with friends. “How can we, with our cricketing history, lose to a country that doesn’t even have cricket in its DNA?”

Losing to the United States on Thursday in the Men’s T20 World Cup was a humiliation in Pakistan, where cricket is the most popular sport and part of the national identity. The national team won the World Cup in 1992, led by Imran Khan, who later rode his sports fame to a political career that included becoming prime minister.

Many Americans were oblivious to the magnitude of their victory in Dallas. But it was felt acutely in the losing side’s cricket-mad nation. As fans woke up to the news, they began trying to digest what had happened, watching highlights from the match in the streets.

“We should be teaching the U.S.A.,” said Muhammad Sagheer, 32, “not losing to them.”

Fans were infuriated by their team’s poor showing. The players dropped catches and missed bats, handing crucial opportunities to the Americans, said Feroz Shah, 30, who called Pakistan’s game a disaster.

Pakistan had already been struggling, in part because recent leadership shake-ups in the team and on the national cricket board have hurt morale, Aatif Nawaz, a British-Pakistani cricket commentator, said in a video.

“A bitter pill to swallow for Pakistan fans who’ve seldom seen darker times,” he wrote on social media after Thursday’s game, calling it one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history.

The United States, which had never played in the World Cup, is a late bloomer on the international cricket stage. It ranks 18th in the world. Pakistan ranks sixth. Thursday’s win was the biggest yet for the U.S. team.

“Pakistan looked exhausted and helpless in the field,” Waqar Younis, a former coach of Pakistan’s national team, wrote on social media. “Congrats USA for a thumping victory.”

American interest in cricket is growing along with its South Asian diaspora. Investors have poured over $1 billion into expanding the sport nationwide. The domestic league played its first season last year and team owners include Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella. In the World Cup, the United States stands a chance of qualifying for the Super 8 round.

Some Americans celebrated their win over Pakistan on social media, many of them in awe that one of the star U.S. players, Saurabh Netravalkar, has a day job as a senior engineer at Oracle.

“It’s a big achievement, you know, beating Pakistan,” Monank Patel, the current captain, said after the victory. “I’m really proud of the boys.”

Another concern reverberated throughout the cafe in Karachi where Ahmed was drinking tea with friends. Pakistan is about to face India, its greatest competitor, on Sunday, in an event that will take over every television screen in both nations.

“If we could not win against the U.S.A., how can we win against our archrival from India?” Sagheer said.

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