DateLine: 16th May 2010
At the halfway stage I was happy with Pakistan's progress against a very tough opponent who most observers thought would run away with victory against their Asian opponents.
The icing on the cake was then the sight of Warner and Watson heading back to the pavilion with the score only on 26. Watson has been a thorn in the proverbials for Pakistan of late and I was particularly pleased to see the back of him.
However there was this continuing uneasy feel about the Australian innings, as despite the early wickets, they were hitting at least one boundary almost every over. 4 down with the score on 62 was pleasing but the worrying aspect from a Pakistani perspective was that the runs had come off only 8.2 overs.
They call Mike Hussey Mr Cricket and fans should realise why they call him that. He is one of the most intelligent cricketers who has ever played the game, he bats according to every situation, he never panics and maintains his focus at all times. What we saw against Pakistan was a batting masterclass and what stood out for me was the way he outhought his opponent. He used the crease so cleverly, turning good length deliveries into short pitched ones, turning yorkers into half volleys with his nimble footwork.
The Pakistani bowlers must have thought what on earth was going on, but there was very little they could do as Hussey was outsmarting them. What then happened was that as Hussey gained momentum, Afridi and Ajmal started to bowl quicker and quicker making them less effective against Hussey. The quicker that the skipper and the off spinner bowled, the easier it became for Hussey as he knew that the pace was on the ball and that there was very little chance of any turn. The Pakistani spinners should have stuck to their guns by giving the ball a bit of air and bowling slower, as Rehman had done so well.
Whilst Hussey was at the crease, the Aussies stood every chance of victory, despite the required run rate creeping steadily up to 14 per over. His innings started slowly but he was just building momentum for an onslaught that will be remembered for a very long time.
What could the Pakistanis have done to avoid defeat? Well that's the million dollar question isn't it. As I have stated above, Ajmal and Afridi should have bowled slower and given the ball more air. Also I thought the fielding and the captaincy lacked that killer instinct. The fielding was decent, but could have been better. In the field Pakistan lacked that killer instinct and one moment that could have changed the course of the match was the fourth ball of the final over when Hussey hit the ball over the gully fielder. The Pakistani fielder was not on the edge of the circle as he should have been and really had that chance been offered to an Australian fielder, it would have been taken. The strike was allowed to be rotated a bit too easily at times and there were too many doubles available, it was almost as if some of the Pakistani players felt that 191 would never be chased down.
I still can't believe Pakistan lost and it was painful to see the contrasting emotions from both teams at the end.
I particularly felt sorry for a very good professional and friend of mine, Saeed Ajmal who is a model professional. I have played against Saeed for many years in domestic cricket and he always gives his all in every match. He's a great guy and very well respected by team mates and opponents.
Saeed has finally got the recognition he deserves at international level, after being ignored by the selectors for many years despite being a consistent performer throughout his career.
I hope Saeed and the boys get over this very painful victory which must seem like a bad dream.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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