Yesterday was a classic Indo-Pak encounter with all the thrills and spills and the added drama of a bowl out to decide the winner after the teams were tied.
The Indian innings – The team got off to a disastrous start. I cannot understand the position or inclusion of Gambhir. Ideally Uthappa should open.They should have played one of the all rounders like Joginder Sharma, Rohit Sharma or Yusuf Pathan. But that was not to be. Gambhir and Sehwag failed, Yuvraj played too early and Asif was too good for Karthik. Uthappa played a terrific innings, Dhoni stood calm and Pathan belted a few to get us to 141, a decent score that would ensure that India atleast qualified ahead of Scotland on the runrate. PS: Agarkar normally spends about 2 overs in the batting crease in any form of cricket and I think the T20 suited his style of batting!
The Pakistan innings – They chose not to send Afridi up the order. A clear indication that they did not want to knock India out by scoring the runs in 14.4 overs. Generally Pakistan’s strategy of not sending Afridi up the order is quite baffling. But RP Singh started well, Sreesanth was fast and straight and Agarkar gave away his quota of boundaries. Still Pakistan lost wickets because of some good bowling by Irfan Pathan and a special thanks to Younis Khan who got Kamran Akmal runout especially after narrowly failing to do so the previous over. Harbhajan started a brilliant spell and with the dismissal of Afridi in the 17th over the match was almost sealed. Bajji thinking that the match was won, tossed one up and Arafat sent it out of the ground. This is T20 and there is just no time to think or settle. Bajji who had bowled so flat and into the blockhole relaxed just that bit. 29 from 2 overs and it was still India’s game. But we had Agarkar who was just dishing out length balls to be walloped for boundaries and suddenly the equation had completely shifted. 17 from the Agarkar over and 12 was needed from the last Sreesanth over. 4 balls later the match was over as the scores were tied. But Sreesanth, bowling round the wicket beat Misbah, who had played an excellent innings, Dhoni got the field in for the last ball, Misbah missed a pull shot and got run out to tie the match! A terrific finish to a fascinating contest.
The bowl out – ICC has come out with new bowl out to resolve ties instead of splitting points or going by the older ‘lesser no of wickets lost’ rule. India seemed to have prepared for this because they had 2 bowlers lined up who did not even bowl in the match. While Sehwag, Bajji and Uthappa(!) hit the stumps easily, the Pakistanis missed and the match was ours! A memorable victory and Pakistan still cannot beat us in World Cup match.