Last night in Karachi, Pakistan levelled the 7-match T20I series against England, in a win that was completely Pakistani in nature.
Defending a middling 166, Hasnain got Pakistan to just the start they needed, as he had England reeling at 14-3 in 2 overs.
When England’s new white ball stars – Ben Duckett and Harry Brook – built a partnership and got going, it seemed England will canter to a win. Even after Duckett got out, Moeen Ali continued the charge and England were well on their way.
But the two Mohammads – Nawaz and Wasim – struck in the space of 6 deliveries to dismiss both Moeen and Brook.
England were 6 down and still 54 runs away from the target with 34 deliveries left.
Pakistan were in the driver’s seat and they remained there till the end of 17 overs when England needed 33 off 18 with only 3 wickets left.
Just when all looked good, Hasnain, who had made Pakistan’s defense possible to start with, was targeted by Liam Dawson.
Dawson smashed Hasnain, who had so far given only 16 runs in his 3 overs, for 24 runs and it seemed all was lost for Pakistan with England needing only 9 runs off the final 12 deliveries with Dawson in fine form.
Enter Haris Rauf to bowl the 19th over of the innings.
6 deliveries. 5 runs. 2 wickets!
Haris, with his 150 kmh+ thunderbolts, brought Pakistan right back into it.
England who had stumbled, and then were cruising, before stumbling and cruising again, were left to get 4 runs off the final over with their final pair at the crease.
A run out, which was caused due to the panic that Haris Rauf had created in the penultimate over, meant that Pakistan had just snatched victory form the jaws of defeat!
It was a magical win. One that only Pakistan can produce, out of no where. Pakistan lost its grip on the match twice during England’s chase, yet somehow still managed to pull off a thrilling victory when Cricinfo’s predictor had them at 1.5% chance of a win!
Only Pakistan can do the impossible.
Only Pakistan can create such drama and entertainment in a cricket match.
And to steal a line shared by a friend:
“Only Pakistan can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and victory from the jaws of defeat, in a matter of minutes”
That truly is Pakistan for you.
There was another meme that I just loved.
Poor Bhuvi thought, a trusted death bowler at one time, he is just having a horrid time at the death lately.
But it is ok, we can all laugh a little at India’s expense, especially when Pakistan has provided some heroics.
Haris Rauf was truly exceptional.
It really was a great win, and all Pakistan fans were back to cheering the greens on, just 1.5 hours after they had volleyed wide range of abuse on the batsmen who slugged their way to a middling 166.
The criticism, even though harsh, was not unjustified.
Babar and Rizwan, as always, had provided Pakistan a great start, having put on 53 in the powerplay.
The next 4 overs produced only 29 runs, and the critics were out with swords!
82-0 after 10 overs is a score I will happily take every single game. It was a solid platform that had been laid by the best batsmen in the business, who do this more often then not.
What happened after that is the problem.
From 82-0, a score of 180 should be no problem at all.
Yet, Pakistan ended on only 166, that too due to Asif Ali’s two 6s in the final over.
When Babar fell trying to up the tempo in the 12th over, Shan Masood walked out with 8 overs still remaining.
Pakistan could have been more flexible by sending in a Nawaz or Asif Ali at that point, but given how Shan had batted in the 3rd T20I, it was a fair call in my opinion.
But Shan could not middle a single delivery during his stay at the crease. It was a painful innings from the “saviour” of Pakistan’s middle order.
Rizwan also seemed to have lost his touch after Babar’s departure.
Shan fell with 9 deliveries left in the innings.
Khushdil Shah, who has been the worst of the lot among Pakistan’s middle order of rabbits, walked out and I was shocked!
Only 9 deliveries to go and you don’t send out Asif Ali???
Why does Khushdil keep getting game after game?
How is he higher in the pecking order than Asif Ali?
It makes no sense to me.
Why is Pakistan’s management not showing more flexibility? Where is the think tank that sent Nawaz up the order against India, and Shadab up the order against Afghanistan, during the Asia Cup?
That flexibility gave Pakistan the desired results, so why not do more of it?
Iftikhar bowled a great spell last night. Why doesn’t he bowl more often? There have been previous games where Pakistan could have used additional overs of spin, so why wasn’t Iftikhar used?
Despite this great win by Pakistan, there are still a number of questions to ponder on.
One can only hope that in future games Pakistan will be more flexible with their batting options, they will stop relying on Khushdil Shah, and they will utilize more spin.
It is about time!