Thursday, September 22, 2011

Straight from the Heart-WC 2011 Semi final (India V. Pakistan)

The trouble started back in our fielding. Six dropped catches in a World Cup Semi Final.. I think MCC would have done better than that !!! Also, Akmal brothers, if one is dropped other starts crying and excuses himself from the game in a protest and the Pakistan team have to have play both. And previously, we used to have one (keeper) Akmal brother dropping catches, yesterday, we had both. So, if the team is giving chances to Tendulkar in the match, he is not going to sit idle and do nothing. He will score which he did..Younis, Misbah, Akmal brothers... They all played their part in the disaster.

For the batting, I think Pakistan needs to overhaul itself and bring some young blood now. Misbah, Younis, they have played their best innings and they must say good-byes for good. The team has plenty of time before the next big cricketing event and hopefully we will be able to find a few decent batsmen from 180 million strong population. Misbah's innings was really mind-boggling. I still can't understand why he did what he did. Maybe he was thinking of, say 2007 T20 Final. The way he performed and brought back the game to Pakistan to the last ball of the match. I am sure he will be explaining the thought process behind his yesterday's technique to the Pakistani nation throughout his life. That would make a good book for him as well. And for the Younis, he has batted well on and off but he has failed miserably in this world cup. He was suppose to be our backbone of the batting line. Maybe we expected too much from him. Maybe he wanted to start at some point. But he isn't a big-hitter to start with. So, not only he didn't score the way he was supposed to, he had so many dot-balls.

As for the captaincy, I think Shahid Afridi did a fantastic job in bringing the team together and get the best from the boys. When everyone was dropping catches, he was the one who held it. Not only this game, but throughout this world cup, he performed and conducted himself on and off the field very handsomely. I understand he didn't have the batting performance up to the par, but his bowling stood out and he led from the front. He out-classed himself in many ways. He took all the boys with him on and off the field. Just consider the kind of team he was given before this event. Pakistan was under great scrutiny of ICC anti-corruption committee for match-fixing. A test captain and two fine bowlers were charged and the team was under the microscope. The morale was down. Everybody felt like he could be the next one to be banned. One of our wicket-keepers took refuge in England for alleged death threats. None of the cricket teams wanted to play in our country. All in all, the team was boxed and there was hardly a chance for our team to get to the semi-finals. So, I think Pakistan wouldn't have a better captain than Shahid Afridi for this event. Not to mention, we just witnessed the alternative, Misbah-ul-Haq in this game. Greats like Sunil Gavaskar and Wasim Akram were perplexed with the way Misbah batted yesterday. I wonder what was going through his mind at that point?

Opportunity knocks once, which happened yesterday for the Pakistani players. Some raised their game and some let down the nation big time. The ones who upped their game, will be remembered for the ages and the ones who disappointed us, will be their for us as examples, not to be followed ever!! So many of the players will be there to play to world cup next time Pakistan gets there and some won't. So this was their best chance to shine, to become heroes, to be part of the Pakistani folklore, and one of the personalities Pakistani families would like to invite to their homes. This happens, maybe, once in a lifetime. Against India, against their crowd, against their media, above all, against all the odds, in their backyard, both the prime ministers were there. After eight years of cricket drought with India, and none of the Pakistani players were invited to play IPL last year and we were there. The Pakistani anthem was played, the Indian prime minister himself greeted us to be there, the Pakistani flag was flown in the stadium. That must have been something after such a cold shoulder to the players from Indians in the IPL. But we lost it and not only the players disappointed their loved ones but the whole nation. One could have seen the joy of the Pakistani team being in the semi-final and hopes of getting to the final. That was one thing, maybe the only thing for happiness for many Pakistanis in their lives at this point.

Everybody is shocked and down more like in a mourning. Nobody wants to talk about this to anyone, anymore. Glad this roller-coaster is over. Everybody can get back to their lives and their everyday problems.

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