“Pakistan’s rise from rank outsiders to champions is an extraordinary display for a team that had to beat Netherlands by a significant margin to even stay in the event during the group stages. However, they have peaked at the right time and couldn’t have produced a more complete performance for a final. They fell five runs short two years ago at Johannesburg, but this time there was no mistake.”
– Cricinfo / http://www.cricinfo.com/wt202009/content/current/story/410042.html
Pakistan, rank outsiders at the beginning of the tournament. The team with a rusty handle on things and just not enough spirit and zeal. The team that was criticized from all corners (Myself included). The team that had the Champions Trophy and then the World Cup hosting rights taken away from it following troubled security issues, terrorism, attacks etc in the country. The team within the major teams with the least amount of international cricket under its buckle in the last year and a half. We were the team that won the T20 World Cup 2009. We won it on the backs of the match winning performances of Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal etc. We weren’t all great. But we persevered.
As a nation, we needed this more then anyone else. Pakistan needed a victory. The country needed a win. As Younis Khan put it:
“This is a gift for the Pakistan Nation”
And what a gift it is. Amid turmoil and problems… the nation finally has something to celebrate. The headlines tomorrow won’t just be of Swat, of Taleban, of the economic issues and the usual serving of sadness. Tomorrow and maybe even day after… it will all be the champions that we are.
The Final was all set up. Again an all Asian final like the last edition which also had Pakistan, that time against its arch rivals India. It was a perfect day it at Lords. Sun shining bright. A good track for competitive cricket. Passion on both sides. Players ready to go. But the match wasn’t as much of a firecracker as one would have expected it to be. There wasn’t a blitz nor a constant thundering from any bat. It was actually a bowlers final.
Sri Lanka, undefeated throughout the tournament. Dilshan, the leading run scorer with a impressive and dazzling 95 off 57 balls innings in the semi-final which destroyed the West Indies, was ready to face Pakistan and continue from where he had left off. But Pakistan had other things in mind.
Aamir bowled to the set plan. No width, no room for driving the ball, keep it short. Keep it uncomfortable. The first ball flew by Dilshan’s nose. And the rest were also short. And the dividends were paid in the very first over only. Dilshan went for a duck. What followed was dominance by Pakistan’s bowlers spearheaded by Razzaq’s experience which got us 3 early and important wickets, over the Lankan batsmen. Apart from the last 5 overs, only Sangakkara (Playing a captain’s knock) the other batsmen struggled for runs or to keep their wicket. The last 5 overs of Sri Lanka’s innings was also perhaps the only part of the match when the Lankans were on top of Pakistan, making 59 runs off them.
With 138 on the board, Sangakkara would have been happy about an innings they finished better after Pakistan’s fiery start. It was a competitive total, one very much within the bounds of the Lankan attack of defending. Especially given Pakistan’s track record for chasing. But this was a day a different Pakistani batting line up came out. One which was more sensible and one which did not lose its head rashly. Akmal and Shahzaib gave Pakistan a steady start even if it wasn’t a quick or racy one. It was one in which runs were on board and wickets were in hand. After the dismissal of Akmal & Shahzaib, Afridi and Malik put on the final runs on the board. Their partnership steered Pakistan to the victory. Well Afridi did really with good support from Malik. It was once again Boom Boom Afridi’s sensible batting ego which showed up to bat. It was another brilliant 50 knock from the charismatic all-rounder. He was calm. He hit his first boundary after nudging around for 19. And it was a sensible and calculated one as well. A six to Murali followed by a four to reduce the gap between runs required and balls left. 2 – 3 overs later when once again it seemed like the pressure was building, Boom Boom dispatched Urdana for a huge six and a four of the very next ball. I firmly believe that more than any other member of the Pakistan team, this has been Afridi’s tournament for redeeming himself (as a batsmen and an all-rounder) and further stamping his fantastic credentials as a dangerous leg-spinner. The semi-final was Afridi’s day. And so was the final. The two most important matches for Pakistan in the T20. BOOM BOOM showed up for work!
“The winning moment felt almost anticlimactic – if such a thing was possible in so fevered an atmosphere. Afridi sized up a slap through midwicket but the ball merely trickled off his pads. No matter, the run was in the book and the trophy was in the bag, with an over and two balls to spare. What followed was glorious, as Afridi first checked that Udana’s lbw appeal had not been upheld, and then, with legs akimbo and a triumphant hoist of the arms, he stood in his crease and lapped up the acclaim. He knew that his team would not be far behind, and sure enough, out they hurtled from the dug-out, to acclaim the man who had steered them back from exile and right onto centre stage.”
– Cricinfo / http://www.cricinfo.com/wt202009/content/current/story/410089.html
Some of the positives from this tournament: Younis Khan on some fine captaincy , Shahid Khan Afridi for his absolute consistency with the ball and timely heroics with the bat proving that Pakistan cricket needs him, Saeed Ajmal for magnificent off-spin bowling, Umar Gul for the non-stop toe crushing and runs cramping spells of yorkers and of course the world record 5 wicket haul against the Kiwis, Razzaq who came back from a 2 year exile and directly onto such a big stage for bringing back the balance to our team. M. Aamir and Shahzaib are good finds. They need to be groomed properly for they will be assets for the future of Pakistan Cricket.
I would like to end this blog by congratulation the Pakistan Team and the nation – our nation which is going through so much right now and how we all needed this win.
I would also like to thank the Kiwis for always bringing out the best in us during these World Cup encounters (both T20 & ODIs format) :D!