Fantastic, thrilling match at Mohali this Thursday! It all came down to the last over again, and, as is Pakistan's wont, they kept us on tenterhooks till the last minute with a gripping, uncertain, will-they-won't-they display on the field. Egads. The adrenaline rush. The pillows torn apart. The continuous durood-shareefs sent upwards. The unladylike shrieks and inward cusses. [Okay, some outward.]
Had Pakistan lost this match after coming so close to winning again, there would be no more posts to read on this blog because I would have passed on to the next world with a shattered heart and a fixed grimace of unbearability etched on my mug.
Thank the Lord it wasn't so. We are now standing at one-all and here on, anything can happen.
It was a very T20-finals sort of situation and feel at Mohali. And when Misbah played 'that shot' again, on 49, to get bowled behind his bum, I thought, 'This does not portend well." All indications leaned Indian-victory-wards. Hurrah for Afridi and Sohail Tanvir. They provided real fireworks when required.
My hero of the day is of course Younis Khan. I love this man. I love his style of play. I love that he can infuriate the bowler and viewer alike with a refusal to get out as well as a refusal to up the run rate, and then just when all seems lost and the required run rate looks unattainable, he swings into action and is scoring at more than run-a-ball. Onward to a century, and taking your side to a comfy posish. *Mwuaaaaaaah*But I shan't discount Misbah. He played a dream as well and so what if he can't finish, he always plays the coolest, bravest, sauciest in a tense situation when all seems lost. He's done it time and again and one cannot forget that.
And then the dolls that are Mad Afridi and Sohail Tanvir stepped in and finished the match in style. When Afridi came in to bat, Pakistan needed 46 off 28 to win and every ball was a terror to watch. With this guy at the crease, you never know. All could have ended. But he struck gold yesterday, along with some fine fours and a smashing six which I caught from in between my fingers placed firmly over my eyes. When Yuvi dropped that second catch at mid-on, I believe I might have peed in my pants. [I didn't, shaddup!]. Sohail Tanvir, well done again.
One ball to spare, no nails left to chew on, frantic pleas to the Almighty to send some Divine Droplets Pakistan's way, and woooo hoooooo! Or, as the title song goes, Whooopeeeee! They did it!
Captain [hmmph] Shoaib Malik played well as he always does. There's no criticising him with the bat or on the field or when bowling. He's a brilliant all-rounder. He's a nice, young lad. He looked to be a good captain at the T20s because there isn't much you can do there. The pace of the match decides most things and in any case, nothing runs to plan in that short version of the game. In a full-length ODI, Shoaib always looks out of sorts as a captain. He does absolutely nothing that makes one nod and say a la Ajit Loin, "Smart bvaaii." (Like Dhoni, say.)
Malik is the extreme opposite of animated. He looks downright worried when his bowlers are getting pummelled. [I mean, look, this is Pakistan. Pummelling WILL happen.] I don't know, I am just not happy with him at the helm of things. Younis Khan is a brilliant, chirpy, active, fun vice captain. He's smart in that he refused captaincy, but he would have been really good there. I do not understand why Mohd Yousuf isn't made captain, or apna mental Afridi. Yousuf is unarguably one of the finest batsmen in the world today. And Afridi one of the top all-rounders. Both have tons of experience. Afridi of course looks more happy to lead and the only thing going against him is he doesn't think. Distinct lack of calm in the face of anything. And Mohd Yousuf is probably too calm. Oh, there you go. I suppose that DOES leave only Shoaib. Latest official announcement: Shoaib's tenure as captain of Pakistan has been extended by one more year by the PCB.
Anyway, back to the match. Salman Butt is a great opener and he's always played well against India. He scores at a healthy pace and plays really beautifully. Pak really needs to find someone else to open well with him. Kamran looked very sloppy with both sets of gloves- the wicket-keeping as well as batting ones. Also unimpressive was Rao Iftikhar. He got slapped around the field and his shoulders and mouth drooped pretty early on in the day. I mean, you can't give up the fight, wot? On the positive side, Shoaib came good, Umar Gul continued his fine form and... Who cares!!! Pakistan won.
Just a little disconcerting to watch Mohd Yousuf so out of sorts yesterday. It doesn't matter. He's a babe.
Now, on to India.
Poor, poor darling Sachin. Unbelievably tragic. Very good for Umar Gul but aaarrrgh! I feel for Sachin. He's such a brilliant, likable player. Thrice in three months! 22nd time in the nineties. If we feel so terrible for him, what must he be going through? *sends virtual commiserations and standing ovation for his excellent 99 off 91*. I really thought it was all over when him and Gambhir were pasting the ball around the stadium.
No one else did much for India except Bhajji with his nutso blitzkrieg at the end. If it weren't for him, it might have been a cakewalk for Pakistan. Ganguly did a good job with the ball.
Tomorrow is another day. Match 3 at Kanpur, starts at 9am local time. We are primed and ready. Pak supporters have gathered at our house. Here we go... May the best team win, but more importantly, let it be another tight match, whichever way it swings.