Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Pakistan Cricket can't be Explained... It can only be Savored and Reminisced!

I am not sure why we are looking for explanations for Pakistan's performance at the ICC World Cup 2019. It is perhaps our own shortcoming of not understanding the beauty of Pakistan cricket, which defies all logic, rationale, and sense.

There is no system or management in Pakistan. There is just immense raw talent, which creates magic when it clicks in unison.

Like it did in Nottingham last night.

For a team that:

last won an ODI in January
lost 11 successive ODIs
lost a warm up match against the lowest ranked team in the World Cup (Afghanistan)
is going through its worst run in its entire ODI history
was bundled out for 105 in their World Cup opening game

... the last thing they needed was to come up against the world number one ODI team, the tournament hosts, the World Cup favorites!

A miracle was required to topple a team like England.

Maybe it was Wasim bhai's birthday that inspired Pakistan...

But most definitely it was batting first that allowed Pakistan a chance to win the game.

Had England batted first, I do not think Pakistan would have managed to chase any total north of 300. And England would have got a lot more than that.

As soon as Pakistan's openers walked out to bat, it all clicked for the boys in green.

Fakhar and Imam started confidently. Their opening partnership laid the perfect platform. Babar and Hafeez continued the good work with Hafeez in particular in his element striking it at a strike rate of 140. Sarfaraz finished it off really well despite not timing all his shots perfectly. And each one of Asif Ali's, Wahab's, Hasan's, and Shadab's swipes for 6s and 4s helped Pakistan march towards a commanding 348.

Maybe it was England's nerves, or maybe it was just Pakistan's day, but good fortune was definitely on our side while we were batting.

Jason Roy dropped a sitter, Morgan threw at the wrong end, England botched up their only review, there were overthrows and misfields, and then some.

We surely needed the luck to continue while we bowled, as 348 on the board was just half the job done.

The luck wasn't there though. Root was dropped at first slip of Aamir (story of his life), Sarfaraz dropped Moeen Ali later in the day, there was one more drop in the outfield, and a review was wasted.

There aren't many ODIs in the history of the game where a side with two centurions loses a match. It happened to Pakistan recently, and last night it happened to England.

At 118-4, Pakistan were confident, but Root and Buttler almost took it away from us. They kept the momentum going and remained within reach of the required run rate. Their partnership threatened Pakistan's chances for a long time as they put on 130 runs in just 17 overs.

Both got centuries and both fell soon after.

It was Shadab Khan once again who provided Pakistan the breakthrough, like he had done at the start of the innings.

And then 6 overs later, Mohammad Aamir sealed the deal for Pakistan as he snared Jos Buttler!

Or so we thought.

There was one more twist to come.

Aamir gave away 15 runs in the 47th over leaving England 38 to get off the final 3 overs with Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes smashing it around.

But then in the very next over, Wahab Riaz ensured victory for Pakistan as he struck twice in two deliveries sending Moeen and Woakes back to the pavilion.

Just like it is hard to understand Pakistan's cricket performances, it is hard to understand Wahab Riaz. Is he good? or is he bad? He gave away 82 runs yesterday. But he also picked up 3 crucial wickets including Johnny Bairstow.

Wahab may forever remain an enigma, but one thing I am quite sure about. Come what may, he turns up for Pakistan every World Cup!

Wahab bowled his heart out. The passion and determination showed on his face. He was part of two more dismissals besides his 3 wickets. He totally rocked it.

Aamir bowled magnificently, besides that one over at the end. He was unlucky not to have Root right at the start. He got Pakistan the much needed wicket of Buttler. Shadab was fabulous with the new ball snaring Roy early, and then followed that up later with the key wicket of Root. Hasan Ali went wicketless but his final spell at the death was a treat to watch. He bowled with pace, got it to reverse swing, and kept the pressure on.

Pakistan, in an effort to shore up their batting, had left Imad Wasim out leaving the 5th bowler duties to be shared by Hafeez and Shoaib Malik.

And boy did they deliver!

Their combined 10 overs went for 53 runs, less than the tally of each of the frontline bowlers. They picked up a wicket each too - Morgan and Stokes respectively!

Everyone contributed. It was a collective effort. A true team effort. It was magic.

There is no explaining this. This is Pakistan Cricket.

One day we get bowled out for the lowest score of this World Cup, on another we smash the highest total of this World Cup.

We lose to the two lowest ranked teams of this World Cup, the two teams that had to play a tournament to qualify for this World Cup. Then we turn up to beat the number one ranked ODI team, the tournament hosts, the World Cup favorites.

There is no explaining this. There is just savoring this (for now) and reminiscing this (later).

This is the beauty of Pakistan Cricket.

Make your pitch on this post...

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3 Pitched:

  1. Dotball said...

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  2. Sanjib Das said...
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  3. Sanjib Das said...
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