Cricket Twenty20 World Cup: Pakistan Makes A Match Of It, India Makes A Mess!
The two Umars—Umar Akmal and Umar Gul—rescued Pakistan out of absolute devastation and powered them to a pulsating victory by two wickets in low scoring thriller against South Africa in Colombo yesterday. In the second match India made a mess of everything and lost by nine wickets to Australia with 31 balls to spare. Both of these Super Eight matches of the ICC World Cup T20 2012 were studies in contrast.
Australia exploded the myth created by India that Colombo tracks had been becoming ideal for spinners offering lot of turn and spin. They have hardly made a difference between fast and slow bowlers hitting everyone mercilessly out of the ground. Such was the fury of the Australian openers Shane Watson (72 off 42 balls with 7 sixes, and 3 wickets) and David Warner (63 off 41) that the top Indian spinners Ashwin, Harbhajan and Chawla were not even allowed to settle down. India skipper Dhoni complained of a little rain that made the ball wet, but finally it comes to good and accurate bowling regardless of the type. Just check the length and accuracy of Harbhajan and Chawla against England the day before and against Australia yesterday. Maybe poor England batting also contributed to the myth.
Of course, inspired by the Colombo turnaround of tracks Pakistan opted for four spinners while South Africa, normally depending on pace, opted for two. But the sheer intensity of the T20 international between Pakistan and South Africa was because of inspired and accurate bowling by both seam and spin bowlers.
The first match of the day between Pakistan and South Africa was a genuine thriller with fortunes swinging from one end to the other. Winning the toss SA elected to bat, but never looked confident against the Pak bowlers—mostly spinners. They could not build a single lasting partnership and lumbered to 133/6 in allotted 20 overs. Pakistan while chasing the modest target of 134 were reduced to 76/7 in the 15th over and the game was almost lost for them. But Umar Akmal and Umar Gul then launched an incredible attack on SA bowlers hauling up the total in the last over with two wickets to spare. SA skipper AB De Villiers made several critical tactical mistakes like bringing himself down to the sixth position in the batting order due to unknown reasons and not bowling his successful slow bowlers—Dumini and Botha—the full quota of four overs each.
India too won the toss and elected to bat. They too could not build on a single lasting partnership and lumbered to a just competitive total of 140/6 in allotted 20 overs. They were reduced to 74/4 in the 12th over and reached 140 thanks to some lusty hits by Suresh Raina and Ashwin. But what India did in the Australian chase was the farthest from inspired or intense cricket. It exposed their inability in bowling one more time and had posed serious questions regarding the team’s further progress in the tournament. The Dhoni experiment in the match against England proved costly too. Big players like Virender Sehwag are needed on big occasions like this and his continuing omission stank of problems within the team. If Dhoni detested senior players as exhibited clearly in the away tours recently then why he opted for Zaheer Khan who had done precious little so far. He also broke the rhythm of Ashwin by resting him in the last match. Now Dhoni’s future prospects can be protected only by individual brilliance of the highest order in the two matches to come irrespective of whom he drops, rests or selects.
But it is not for nothing that this awesome Group-2 of foursome—India, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa—is called the group of death. All these teams are capable of surprising one another on a particular day and therefore no forecast is good enough about which two will proceed to the semis.
India meet Pakistan on 30th September at 7.30pm. And, an encounter between these two arch-rivals is never conditioned by how they have been faring in the tournament. It is a passion and the biggest one every time they meet.The Results and Schedule: