14TH MAY, 2010

We were the champions of the shortest format of the game; the trophy was lifted on 21st June, 2009. The glory was a great bequest for a country beset with impediments galore. The euphoria was understandably huge, but short-lived; we were off to the Caribbean for the next edition. Our team was in tatters; many stalwarts were banned/fined, to include the victorious skipper Younus Khan and Shoaib Malik. PCB appointed Shahid Afridi as the skipper after the announcement of the squad which was an assortment of youngsters and veterans; some were perhaps inept for the T20’s. This article does not want to give a run-down of the whole event and how it panned-out for the then world champions, instead it will shed light on the culminating match as far as Pakistan was concerned.  Pakistan took on her nemesis, Australia in the semi final; they became nemesis because they had pummelled us down-under in 2009/10. I have seen the pits of Pakistan’s cricket; it would be unreasonable to call it as a dark day for Pakistan’s cricket, but for a fanatic like me the flabbergasting   loss was a death-knell. The subsequent lines would refresh the memories of those who were livid.

As aforementioned, Pakistan took on the Aussies in the semi on an overcast day at ST Lucia. Clarke had the misread the pitch and hence, inserted Pakistan to bat. After a sedate start, the two openers, Kamran Akmal and the incarcerated Salman Butt flayed the Aussie bowlers; the former departed after mustering up exactly 50 while the latter conjured 32. The captain fell prey early (8), so did Khalid Latif(13).

Then came the rookie, Umar Akmal to the crease and the carnage began; Umar flaunted startling strokes to the on side for huge sixes; he propelled a modest total into 191. Umar himself amassed 56 off 35 balls, leaving Pakistan well on course to reach the third consecutive final. I was cocker hoop to the extremity; I know that we have the bowling prowess to show them the door.

I was having a fallacy that we would go to Barbados to lock horn with England for the coveted. The dismal start by the Kangroos when they lost Watson and Warner inside 3 overs, gave by belief more vent. The Aussies never really recovered, losing Clarke, Haddin and David Hussey at regular intervals. However, White bludgeoned 5 sixes to restore some order. Meanwhile, Hussey was quietly gaining momentum. White got out, leaving his team in a huff, so did Steve Smith. We were dancing like anything. After 18 overs, the Aussies required 34 more, which was perhaps highly unlikely, but Mr Cricket took 16 runs off the 19th over, leaving 18 runs to win off the final over. This was a mamooth errand. Afridi went to his tried and tested option, Saeed Ajmal who was on top of his game. He bowled the first ball for a single; Hussey came on strike and on the second and third delivery deposited the ball in the aisles. This gave many of us the jolt of our life. Adding insult to injury, he finished the game in a jiffy by hitting a four and a six. We were no longer world beaters; Afridi wasn’t able to fortify the title. We were left indignant.

I want my readers to understand that both the captain and the bowler need not be censured for the dramatic turnaround; one should have the spirit to eulogize M E K Hussey.


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