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From dusk to dawn   Bookmark and Share

Posted by Kiran Narendran
on June 26th, 2009

Pakistan has always been mercurial since the onset of modern cricket and they will remain like that also because that volatility is their hallmark. Pakistan never lacked talented players but they lacked cohesiveness every time. However, when Imran Khan helmed Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup, which they eventually won, they played as a unit. Pakistan lacked exceptional captains like Imran after that world cup and their ordinary performances were perfect examples for their lackluster leadership. Pakistan cricket was in a real mess when Younus Khan took over the captaincy. They were flooded with different controversies which involved their key players and officials followed by the terror attacks on the Lankan players which resulted in their isolation in the cricketing world. They were never favorites right through the World T20 and their hapless outing against the England in their opening match reinforced the points of critics. After their mesmerizing performance against the South Africans, they were eager to have that silverware, which they lost 2 years back to India by a whisker. Pakistan was clinical right through the final and as Wasim Akram mentioned, they were never authoritative like this in any of their past major battles.

Sloppy beginning

At the onset Pakistan didn’t look as ominous as they were after the first round. Their hapless performance against the England had invited criticism from all corners. Lot of people questioned the attitude of Younis Khan, especially his ‘smile in adversity’. In the next match, they had to battle their heart out to overcome an inspired Ireland. The batting strength of each team who competed in this tournament was more or less same notwithstanding, the depth of Indian batting line up who have Yusuf Pathan at 8. The bowling has been the decider of this edition of T20 WC. If we look at the bowling arsenal of all the semifinalists, we can see the diverse and quality bowling options each teams’ possessed. Pakistan has clear edge over the others in this department and the final is the perfect illustration of that. They have young Aamir and the come back all-rounder Abdul Razzak to embark on the proceedings, then a resurgent Afridi in the middle overs and at the death they have the ruthless Umar Gul with his toe-crushing reverse swing yorkers.

Overwhelming Gul and Afridi

In this edition, every team tried to avoid early hiccups during the power plays. As a result of that runs dried up in the first half and the onslaughts in the final overs got them enough runs to defend. But this strategy backfired against Pakistan as their strike bowlers Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi came in the later half of the match. In the middle overs, Afridi defied width and batsmen were forced to take singles. His quicker balls and other variations were hard to read and as a result runs dried up. When Umar Gul came to ball, the slog remained apparent and the batsmen had thrown their bat at everything. This also proved to be a failure as the batsmen had no answer for his reverse swinging yorkers. Pakistan also featured some smart slow bowlers who had supported this duo. In short, we can say that the bowling was the predominant factor of Pakistan’s World T20 triumph.

Zippy Kamran

Kamran Akmal’s form at the top has been instrumental in the batting success. The Pakistani middle order had not fired all cylinders like the last year and still they managed to get reasonable scores, due to the blitz from Kamran Afridi and Shoaib Malik. The new group of young batsmen have also shown glimpses of talent, which we would see in detail in the coming future. All together the batting efforts have been on par. The fielding was also impressive as we had some breathtaking, acrobatic efforts from Afridi and Co. The only loophole was seen in giving the extra runs which they need to work hard on.

This World Cup triumph would not shed the tag of the mercurial nature of Pakistan but it would definitely heal the many wounds of a nation affected by terrorism and who keep cricket close to their heart. They have to put the same kind of performance to get rid of their volatile nature and to prove to the world that this triumph is not a fluke. That won’t be easy for Pakistan, yet it’s not impossible for the caliber of Pakistan who lost the same trophy last time in the blink of an eye.

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4 Responses to “From dusk to dawn”

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