The ambition is fierce and the energy is high — Pakistan are back, and back with a bang! The familiar aura of suspense finally returned to the faces of avid spectators, watching their home side take Sri Lanka head on in two nerve-wracking games, finishing the job splendidly.
Gone are the days when fans would long consistency in batting, cringe over poor fielding, and question the constant shuffling of bowlers. Pakistan’s signature display of winning when least expected, and that too in all three departments, has given the whole nation a sweetly addicting tune to dance to.
Thank God, we have finally found a combination that is here to stay.
Everyone knew the series was going to be a real tester for our batting, and all we needed was confidence. In the first game, shortly after Ahmed Shehzad’s watchful 46 off 38 deliveries, middle-over experts Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal made a mockery out of the Sri Lankan pacers, sharing seven joint fours and three huge sixes between them. The result of playing proper cricket shots in place of blind slogs paid off a winning 175 in the end. It was a show of pure class and talent.
In the second T20, let’s admit, things got a little out of hand, right?
Chasing 172, Pakistan was failing at 40 for five, but the best part about such a situation is that you get to prove your character as a side, our strength. With his brutal 45 off 30 deliveries, Shahid Afridi built a remarkable platform for his team when all hope was fading, unveiling the true star in Anwar Ali as he marched on to the field, highly motivated.
One could swear it was AB De Villiers clad in green, slamming the likes of Lasith Malinga and young Binura Fernando at a belligerent strike rate of 270 all over Premedasa. A striking mash-up of aggression and improvisation from the lad helped register a record of 46 off just 17 deliveries to his name, which is also the highest score ever by a number nine batsman in the format.
More was to be accomplished, though. Everything Anwar strived for could have been done and dusted, if it wasn’t for young Imad Wasim’s slick finish. Despite knowing there wasn’t much he could do with Mohammad Irfan on the other end, the cheeky-lefty launched one off his pads, tearing Fernando’s hopes apart with a biggie into the stands.
People stood up, flags were raised high, an unforgettable sight for the whole nation. Sorry Sri Lankan brothers, but we love ending things in style.
The other positive to draw out of this series was Pakistan’s impressive bowling, most importantly, in the absence of celebrated stars. Wahab Riaz was victim to injury, Junaid Khan was rested, and thus, the Anwar Ali-Sohail Tanvir pair was gifted the centre stage.
The former’s accurate line and length with the new ball troubled the Lankan openers, challenging their defences, guaranteeing early inroads for Pakistan. Tanvir, on the other end, got the ball to swing both ways on an otherwise fruitless Colombo turf, building on Anwar’s pressure-exertion ploy. Therefore, Pakistan sought success in breaking the backbone of the Sri Lankan batting arsenal, which is their top-order.
Had dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera been given the slightest of width by the opening duo, Pakistan would have been on an immediate disadvantage. The outcome also served as a moment of much deserved relief for Irfan, who missed out on the wickets yet found ample support in his partners.
Ever since Misbahul Haq relinquished his role of a rescuer in the shortest format of the game, one wondered who would run to Pakistan’s aid in tough times. Gladly, the culture of individual contribution is fading. Promising youngsters such as Mohammad Rizwan and Imad have injected potential into the lower-middle order crust, and the series has signalled the sweet batting revival of known faces.
Success in the T20 format of the tournament also helped Pakistan climb two spots from their former number five position on the International Cricket Council (ICC) ranking table, surpassing arch-rivals India, to clench the third position in style. That, coupled with the efficacy in bowling, has silenced the voice of criticism decisively.
Pakistan’s only motto from here on will be to carry the same junoon and élan into the mega T20 World Cup next year, only to reinforce their position in the cricket marathon as Asian giants.
from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/28852/sorry-sri-lanka-but-we-love-ending-things-in-style/