• Friday, March 06, 2015

Reverse Swing

Wasim Akram

A fearless and determined Pakistan team turned on Sunday. Changed attitude with a never-say-die approach and that's a true reflection of the fact that Pakistan's result depends on which team turned up on that particular day. They wore their hearts on their sleeves, unlike the way they were against India.
Even when the Hurricane Maxwell was blowing the match away, Pakistan didn't lose hope. It paid off and true to the reputation of a Twenty20 game, one wicket, one good over changed the whole complexion of the match. Once Pakistan got rid of Maxwell, with 66 needed off 50 deliveries, they sniffed a chance and how well fortunes changed for Saeed Ajmal. He dropped a sitter off Maxwell, went for 22 in his first two overs and my God, it could have been fatal. But luck was on Pakistan's side. Maxwell departed just three runs later and from there on, Pakistan forced the victory.
Fortunes favour the brave and it was proved in Mirpur. For me Mohammad Hafeez looked more settled, his resolve had returned after losing to India. He went to Ajmal when the bashing was on, tried to pacify Bilawal Bhatti after he was thrashed and kept his confidence. It was a nice sight.
For me the turning point was Maxwell's departure. The lithe allrounder was at his destructive best. He didn't care for Ajmal's reputation. Doosra or Teesra, all were dispatched to the boundary and it seemed that even if Pakistan had mustered 200-plus, Aussies would have chased that too. I like the way Ajmal portrays himself. Mind you it was the same total (191) Pakistan had piled up in the semifinal of the 2010 World Twenty20 against Australia. But that day Michael Hussey finished the game by demolishing Ajmal in the last over.
But to Pakistan's luck there was no finisher like Hussey in this Aussie team. Once Maxwell and Finch fell there was no one to carry on the chase.
Zulfiqar Babar gave Pakistan the ideal start by dismissing ever-dangerous David Warner and Shane Watson. What more a captain can ask. But when Maxwell and Finch were hitting every ball out of the park it seemed the match will be over soon. The eighth over proved a morale sapping for Pakistan, 30 runs off Bhatti. But it is always said that wait for a wicket to fall and you get an opening. Pakistan did get that once Maxwell departed.
I would be a miser if I don't praise Shahid Afridi's bowling. He kept his cool amidst the demolition act and finally got rid of Maxwell to push Australia on the back foot.  

I am not surprised at all the way Umar Akmal batted because it is his real potential. If he bats like this he will always score big. He took the attack to the Australian bowlers, like he always does against the Aussies.
So full marks to Pakistan's resilience. They now have six days of rest and their next match is against the hosts. Nobody is going to support Pakistan, so they will have to keep that never-say-die approach. Win the rest of matches and go into the semis, but before that a well deserved rest to savour the win over Australia.
The writer is a former Pakistan cricket captain and one of the finest swing bowlers and currently a TV commentator and presenter

Published: 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2014

Last modified: 12:58 am Monday, March 24, 2014

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