Pak turn it around and how!


Pak turn it around and how!
Pakistan have surprised one and all by making it to the final of the Champions Trophy. file photo

Last night, the Pakistan-origin people of Birmingham, going out for iftar feasts, had green and white flags flying from their cars. They shouted “Pakistan zindabad” in accents that were certainly not Pakistani. They were celebrating an amazing achievement by the team of the nation their parents and grandparents came from. 
The Pakistani players are incredible. 11 days ago, they were the object of much scorn and abuse — they’d received a spectacular hammering from India. Five days ago, England were incredible — they gave Australia a spectacular hammering. The roles have been reversed. Pakistan beating England in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy is the most stunning shock of this tournament. England were thought to be unbeatable; Pakistan were thought to be totally un-winworthy. 
In post-match analyses, England were ridiculed for moaning about the pitch — they wanted a less worn, unused, perfect batting surface.  Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, said: “I think the pitch was very good.” Ahmed also pointed out a key fact: both teams played on the same pitch. “I think it was an equal pitch for both teams.” 
He’s right. Both teams played on the same pitch. It was an equal pitch for both teams. The inequality was created by Pakistan’s pace bowlers, with their variations, change of pace and occasional swing. 

The strengths of the teams were lopsided. It ended in a lopsided win for the ‘weaker’, lower-ranked, down-and-out Pakistanis. The first team into the final was one that had been dismissed as losers less than two weeks ago. How did they do it? Ahmed is a clever cricketer and an intelligent man, but his explanation of his team’s win was very, very inadequate. “We were bowling well, fielding well, and now today batting clicking as well,” he said. Oh right, that’s simple enough, then: Bowling well, batting well, fielding well. 
“After the India match, we just motivated the guys — don’t worry about the India match… This is gone. If we play good cricket, definitely we’ll win this tournament,” said Ahmed, and added as a punchline: “Now we’re in the final.”

Eoin Morgan, the England captain, was left clutching at the ‘positives’, hardly what the hosts had been playing for. The first thing he referred to after the game was that the match was played on a “used wicket”. Later, at the media conference, he said: “They adjusted to conditions extremely well, and the wicket was obviously slow and low and hard to get away to start with.”
Morgan was asked if there had been a turning point in the match. “The turning point?” he asked, and replied: “I don’t think there was any significant turning point. I thought it was pretty dull, pretty — yeah, pretty dull.”
Pretty dull? Not quite. It was a thrilling bowling performance from Pakistan. Almost incredible.

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