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Pakistan show their real mettle at last!

March 03, 2013

Pakistan cricket players celebrate the dismissal of South Africa's Farhaan Behardien who was caught out by Ahmed Shehzad. -Photo by Reuters

CRASH, bang, wallop! That is what the T20 stuff is all about and a kind of carnival and more of a day out to enjoy power hitting and brilliant fielding. It touches the sense and sensibilities of those who do not have time to spare for the longer format of the game, that is Test cricket which has its own following and charm, and in fact is the mother of all cricket.

Pakistan having lost the Test series were obviously in low spirits and not in the best of health as far as their cricket goes in the longer format of the game.

Their emphatic victory in the second Twenty20 at the SuperSport Park over South Africa by 95 runs was a kind of much-needed jab in the arm of a side which only a couple of days ago were down in the mire and in the process of recovering from the shock.

They certainly did come up trumps proving that when it comes to playing in the limited format of the game they can still stick their neck out to prove they are not a pushover by any means.

Batting first they did show that their captain Mohammad Hafeez does have an iota of confidence that his team were capable of toppling the favourites South Africa.

Ahmed Shehzad, in fact, set the tone while executing blazing cover drives and straight drives past the bowlers as well as clouting them overhead for a couple of sixes. Hafeez in turn also pounced on the opportunity taking full advantage of over-pitched and short deliveries to hit hard and high at times to the delight of a packed house which enjoyed their outing uninterrupted by the vagaries of the weather which disappointed them when the first match was washed out at Durban.

Ahmed’s 46 and Hafeez’s 86 did the job for Pakistan despite failures of Shoaib Malik and the Akmal brothers — Kamran and Umar. Shahid Afridi did not have much of a chance to come into his own, but did show that he meant business.

By my calculations Pakistan should have scored 225. But tumbling wickets in later stages did provide some hope for Faf de Plessis’ colleagues.

Things, however, were not in favour of the hosts who continued to fail against Pakistan bowling. A B de Villiers showed aggressive intent before Mohammad Irfan disturbed his wicket. That I would say was the only resistance which Pakistan bowlers encountered before South Africa perished for 100 in 12.2 overs which obviously was the marked difference between the two teams.

Umar Gul, though not in his elements in Tests, bowled spiritedly to bag five wickets for six runs in 2.2 overs with full support from Hafeez who also once again proved himself useful in the limited-overs games.

The win prior to the ODI series starting from March 10 in Bloemfontein would obviously help those who will now be gearing up to show as much agility and form as the T20 team did.