A couple of days back Obaid came back from his long hiatus and now I return from a mini one after the UAE national day celebrations. I followed both the tests this week and saw Murali create a world record, Misbah announce his arrival in grand style, Akmal save his test career, Jayasuriya announce his test retirement, and Younis Khan play a captain's innings among other things. I'll talk a bit about each of this below.
Whatever I say about him is not enough. Only 15 years ago the Lankans were the bunnies of international cricket - to have a world record holder among their ranks is something to be damn proud of. Although I am a diehard Shane Warne fan, Murali's feat is extraordinary and deserves credit. I am so tempted to pull out stats to prove why Warne was better than Murali but I think I'll leave that for another blog.
Kamran AkmalThe boy played a gem. This was his 5th 100 and no other Paki keeper has scored as many - that's some achievement. This is the 3rd time in as many test series (2005 Mohali, 2006 Karachi, and now) that he's played an innings to bail Pakistan out of trouble against India and help win or save a test. Again, that's some achievement. Despite his atrocious wicketkeeping, this innings has definitely secured his place in the team for another year.
He arrived at the crease when Pakistan were 85-3 in the 28th over before lunch on the 3rd day. Yousuf had just been bowled by Harbhajan and Pakistan were staring at a possible follow on and a likely innings defeat. 124 overs and 371 runs later, Misbah was still at the crease as Pakistan's innings folded. He had faced 59 of those overs and scored 161 of those runs in an innings that would have made the old Ul-Haq, the man he replaced, immensely proud. Its been a long time since I have watched such level of grit, determination, and patience from a Paki batsman in test cricket. Rameez Raja is tipping him to take over as captain of the side in 6 months if he maintains his form. I wonder if that will be a good move.
Sanath JayasuriyaThe selectors had given him an ultimatum and I think he made the right decision. Not many Asians get to retire in grace and I'm glad the trend is changing after PCB set the 'farewell test' in motion. First Atapattu and now Jayasuriya - both have bid goodbye on a high with 80 odds in their final test innings. We're lucky to have him around in the ODIs and smash those balls past point and cover for SIX!!
He seems to be more in control on the field than Malik and leads from the front while batting as well. Today he scored a flawless 100 to ensure that Pakistan battles out a draw - thats the 2nd time he's done that in the last 3 tests to save Pakistan from defeat. 3 hundreds in the last 4 tests and Younis is becoming ever dependable. Anand Vasu has put it aptly that he is a reluctant captain, but a capable leader. Even though he deserves it, I doubt he would captain the side for a longer term, especially after his recent outburst against a captain's lack of control.
Thats all the rambling I had to do. Some other stuff that I enjoyed was Jaffer reminding me of a young Azharuddin, Kaneria bowling Sachin with a googly, Sami showing why he demands to bat higher up in the domestic season, and Sangakkara show the English what the Aussies experienced some time back. What an innings he played today. SL will most probably go 1 up tomorrow. I also watched Gibbs take the Kiwi attack apart with 7 sixes and a bit of the ICL where Inzi seems to be in amazing batting form.
Bangalore in 4 days. Kumble's home town. India looking to win the series and Pakistan looking to draw and keep their record in India intact. Pakistan hasn't lost a series there in 30 years and they wouldn't want to now either.