Down to the Last Ball – Electrifying Bowling & Gritty Batting

October 1, 2009

During yesterday’s Australia Pakistan match, my brothers and I got into a discussion on ODI bowling. I said:

what Pakistan could use now aside from openers are solid strike bowlers. The kind who authoritatively combine sheer pace with deadly accuracy to leave batting lineups trembling in defensive mode. Wasim Akram, Waqar Younus, Imran Khan and Shoaib Akhtar come to mind, who within just a few overs, could command a reversal of the course of entire matches allowing their team to defend even modest totals. These were the guys who made Hat Tricks look easy. As a kid I recall my wide eyed expectation that Akram or Younus would simply take multiple wickets to salvage any match where Pakistan was slipping. And they rarely let me down.

While the current lineup isn’t quite at that caliber yet, yesterday was still a nice taste of some electrifying Pakistani bowling. But first came batting. Though I initially recommended Akmal play it safe allowing more experienced batsmen to assume leadership, he did well to take big shots during opening innings. I didn’t anticipate Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik’s subdued batting or Afridi opening, so Akmal’s 44 off of 63 deliveries proved supportive. Still, conjuring just a 206 total shouldn’t have been difficult to chase, but the Pakistani squad made it a tough earned victory for the Aussies. Skipper Ponting described it best,

“I was chewing my finger nails up there for the last little bit. That ended up being closer than I thought was possible. We snuck across the line.”

I was nervous at the onset of the second innings when the Aussie run rate averaged around 6 after 10 overs compared to the Pakistani average that was just under 4. Watson opened well managing a strike rate of 109 with his partner Paine at around 72. But, just as the Aussies were:

“coasting at 140” a loss of “six wickets for 47 in a dizzying 12-over sequence that temporarily opened the door for India to leap-frog them into the next round of the tournament.”

Pakistani hopes skyrocketed as the Aussies scrambled to maintain wickets. Hussey and Ponting supported their openers with fair enough runs so that despite the fall of wickets, the run rate was maintained to sufficiency almost throughout. Almost throughout. Shoaib Malik took out the Aussie pillar Rikcy Ponting and at the 36th over Saeed Ajmal bowled Ferguson. Promptly thereafter, Naved-ul-Hassan took out Hussey who was looking more and more threatening leaving the Aussies 157 for 4.

Then came my second most missed Pakistani player, Mohammad Asif (second only to Abdur Razzaq), who made a very cool comeback bowling full outside off to Hopes. Hopes drove it upward straight to Younis and then Asif clean bowled batsman number 6 in the same over. That’s likely when skipper Ponting started chewing his finger nails. With just a couple tail enders left to chase roughly a half century and an electrified bowling to face, the last 9 overs were gripping. It wound up going to the very last ball where the Aussies managed to win it. And any game that winds up decisive based on the last ball is fine by me.

So it looks like Australia is in through the Semi’s with Dhoni and company’s tremendous thrashing of the West Indies not enough to take them forward. In any case, bring on New Zealand!



  1. if you see the whole cricketing world Pakistani bowling line is much much better then others and i agree we don’t have bowlers of akram and younus caliber but what we have right now is much better then the rest


  2. yeah bring on our fav. semi final opponent New Zealand we would love to make it one more time. But becareful this time it isn’t an easy pitch and Kiwis team looking good.


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