Sunday, February 06, 2005

A Let Down

May be it’s just the high price I paid for my ticket. At the end of the day, I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down the way Pakistan lost somewhat tamely in the first final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Watching a game at the MCG, from a deluxe seat, was a dream come true. Only, the game did not live up to the occasion! Record rainfall on the previous night and likely showers forecast for the game day added to the lackluster VB series performances and only about 27,000 turned up for the game. Even with some of the stands being reconstructed, more than half the stadium was empty. Despite all those negative factors, Pakistan made a match of it and actually threatened to end Australia’s dominance in these finals by restricting them to a modest total in the context of modern one-day cricket. But of course, at the MCG, there’s always something for the bowlers, especially the faster ones, and so 237 was going to be a competitive one. Pakistan’s fragile top order made it look like a formidable one. Of course, Yusuf Youhana and Salman Butt were done in by brutish beauties from Lee and in very quick time, Pakistan was staring down the barrel. Youhana’s wicket was the prized one, considering the good player he is and the good form he has enjoyed in Australia. Balls like that decide matches. Amazingly, the depth of this new look Pakistan batting line-up and the smallish target meant they were still in the hunt, especially as Inzamam played himself in and got strong support from the talented Shoaib Malik. They gradually opened up and played some handsome strokes, showing a liking for Darren Lehmann’s gentle left armers. For Lehmann, it would have no doubt been instructive, having got out trying to reverse sweep the first delivery he played earlier in the afternoon. Not that the Pakistanis were a model of sanity – Inzy chose to hook Lee. Pakistan was still in the hunt. Then Symonds conjured up a bit of magic in the field, as is his wont. Pakistan was still in the hunt. Malik decided that he had to hit a flurry of boundaries to win the game. And that was that. The late pyrotechnics from Afridi were not meant to pose a serious challenge. Fireworks are never meant to last, but they can dazzle you for a while and that’s what Afridi managed to do. That was the most exciting bit of cricket all night, and says something about the way he plays. Whatever his limitations may be, he’s fun to watch. The same could not be said about the Pakistan team at the moment. - NK PS: Pakistan committed hara-kiri again, in the second final at Sydney, their batsmen once again negating the good work of their bowlers.

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