Of Pakistan ‘Zindabad’ & Bangla ‘Tigers’ | Sunday Observer

Of Pakistan ‘Zindabad’ & Bangla ‘Tigers’

First the Pakistan cricketers who took a pounding from the awesome West Indians in their first game of the 2019 World Cup. Then they hit back with a vengeance to redeem themselves when they brought the highly rated host England down to earth with a performance that erased their poor showing against West Indies.

Fans went wild with ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. Herein lies the story that will likely be the undercurrents sweeping the World Cup turf: that each game should be judged on it’s own merits. Like the ‘toss’ nothing should be predictable. And this is good for cricket.

Even the mighty Indians, noted for a star-studded line up may be affected by the vagaries of the spin and seam of the day.

When England won the toss and nonchalantly asked Pakistan to bat, they seemed to be over-confident. Their bet was for an easy ride for victory after their gallant win against South Africa.

Eoin Morgan the England captain and their think tanks were booed when they asked Pakistan to strike first. Being the hosts England should known like the back of their hand how the wicket would play. Apparently Morgan hoped that the Pakistanis would be unsettled by being asked to bat.

Pakistan it must be stated have over the years produced some amazing cricketers who were better than the best known. What has been lacking in their game is that they rarely play as one unit. Once they begin to play as one unit, they become world beaters. And this they showed in abundance to bring England down with a thud.

Bookmakers have made England favourites to win the cup this time round. The Union Jacks have never got a feel of the Cup. They have entered the finals, but that’s how far as they got. How they must be yearning to grab it this time.

But the defeat does not mean the end of the line for England. They have more matches to play and their supporters will be hoping that they will take this defeat as an eye opener, not underestimate future opponents but play as they know they can.

Pakistan after crashing to West Indies and with not many giving them a chance against England, rose Phoenix-like from the ashes to give England the message that a game is not won or lost till the final ball is bowled.

England have an all round side finely tuned for this style of game. In batting they have beefy hitters in Jason Roy, Jhonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali with Chris Woakes also no mug with the bat.

And they have new ball bowlers with pace, swing and hostility in Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes and tantalizing spin from Ali (off) and Adil Rashid (leg spin) and to back the batters and bowlers up they have some excellent fielders.

The name Archer brings to mind the two brothers who played for Australia in the 1950s Ken and Ron Archer who were top class all rounders.Pakistan too, although they capitulated against the Windies have performers who can play stellar roles on their day. When Pakistan batted openers Imam ul Haq and Fakhar Zaman seemed determined not to let the England pacies dominate.

They seemed to be on a mission and that mission was to blunt the opening England attack and give their side a solid start, so that batsmen following will slip into top gear and post a total that would put pressure on the England batsmen.

Ul Haq 44, Zaman 36, Azam 63, Hafeez 84 skipper Ahmed 55 batted with great determination to help them post a formidable 348 in their 50 and leaving England a mountainous score to make and which if they achieved would have been a record chase for victory.

England were helped by centuries from Root 107 and Jos Buttler103. But the other recognized batsmen did not contribute sufficiently and the hosts fell short by 14 runs. But they had the satisfaction of making 334 in 50 which was a record when it came to chasing victory.

The Pakistani bowlers obliged with Shadab 2, Amir 2 and Riaz 3 doing the damage. Watching left arm pacie Riaz bowl, he does not seem to have lost the pace he carried in the previous World Cup. He was menacing.

The writer remembers the life threatening deliveries he bowled to Australian opener Shane Watson who was ducking and weaving for dear life. Riaz let loose because Watson had sledged him, it was revealed.

Now that Pakistan have hit their straps, it is hoped that they will not look back, but continue the form that they are capable of and emulate the brilliant effort of the team led by their current Prime Minister Imran Khan in winning the World Cup.

If the excellent form that Bangladeshi Tigers displayed in cropping the Proteas is an indication, then they will leave this World Cup causing many a surprise and with their heads held sky high.

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