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Tuesday October 04, 2022

Wide balls from the West!

September 22, 2022

The average T20 score at the NSK is 190 runs, and it is a batters’ paradise, but we messed up and could manage 158 only! Surely, it was not the best of batting performances by the home team. Our openers launched the offensive well, but the middle-order punters could not middle or read the ball.

And so it was, God saved the King and England romped home to go one-up in the seven match T20 series. The adjusted ‘from Queen to King’ anthem was heard for the first time ‘publicly’ at the National Stadium Karachi (NSK).

The new look Pakistan team with a one-time blue kit, yellow star and green caps was a pleasant change from the mundane ‘men in green’ version. It was a meaningful gesture from the PCB to dedicate the match to the flood-victims; it displayed the player-number and name in a submerged design on the back of the shirts. The one-minute silence in memory of the flood victims and the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, was a solemn ritual.

The national anthem rituals are as sacred as the national flags, but it was not a good sight to see the two flags fluttering on rusty flagpoles.

The difference between excellent running between the wickets and running after headless chickens explains why Pakistani batters are run out and fielders clash head-on when attempting a catch! We have a good team, but quite accustomed to a comedy of errors, when it matters most. Maybe a psychotherapist can be on the squad, in addition to a physiotherapist?

Rizwan was the maverick, brought up his 50 quite fast, his fluency of strokes along with his skipper’s was amazing; until England’s Rashid crashed through Babar’s gates and tricked the master stroke maker. Rizwan’s two majestic 6s were described as ‘due to his ingenuity and footwork,’ said David Gower.

England’s fielding was airtight, they jammed the big hitters. Crossing NSK’s average 190 for a batting side was a forlorn dream. The visiting bowlers were disciplined and executed a perfect plan; they had the home team against the wall. Debutant Luke Wood bowled fast, ripping off Nawaz’s scalp, lock, stock & barrel. Rashid’s googly was difficult to read.

The England batters put their heads down, played intelligent knocks and romped home with a comfortable win, with Harry Brook and Alex Hales doing most of the damage. A sign in the stand read “We have 11 kings” and the British HC in Karachi, Christian Turner said in his near-perfect Urdu, “cricket hamare khoon mein hai” (cricket is in our blood). A diplomat to the core, he wore a two-sided tee-shirt, supporting both teams!

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