A superb win, a good beginning


Pakistan cricket has often wilted under the weight of expectation. It looked like that for brief spells during the game at Bangalore. But then another Pakistani trait, tenacity, came to the fore. That took them past the post, though not without a flutter when it all seemed done and dusted.
A tour of India, under the best of circumstances, is by no means an easy undertaking for a Pakistani outfit. For this Pakistan squad that has literally begged its way back to bilateral resumption of ties, the task was bound to be all the more onerous. Yet, ‘game rusty’ as Ramiz Raja pointed out, it still held its nerve to keep coming back when it seemed that the odds were stacking against it.
Though the game went down the wire, the good thing about this victory was that all parts seemed to be working well and in tandem, with each and every member keen to contribute. That was evident when we bowled and fielded – thwarting a much-vaunted Indian middle and late order, backed by an inspired combo of spin and pace bowling and fielding that was only slightly shy of world class.
Then batting for a chase that apparently looked to be modest with only 134 to get, after a shocker of a start losing three wickets to a debutant swing bowler, Bhuvenshwar Kumar, skipper Mohammad Hafeez and that cool customer Shoaib Malik pulled it back with aplomb and a hundred-plus stand – retrieving from a position where pinching a run seemed to be a task.
Hafeez has been under the scanner. And not without reason, for he is supposed to be holding a position in the top order ahead of better stroke-makers only because he was the captain. He had not scored too many runs prior to this game, which powered his critics to go after him. But in this game, he hardly put a step wrong. Winning the toss and electing to field may have fired back but it didn’t because he remained aggressive and astute in his bowling changes. Both Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul, the two stalwarts in the lineup went for a six apiece in their opening overs. Yet he remained unflustered, and once the bowlers were amongst the wickets, they embarrassed the might of Indian batting.
With literally nothing on the board, and three down, it fell to Hafeez and Malik, and how well the two experienced hands absorbed the pressure, weathered the storm and delivered the victory.
Pakistan has begun the series well. That should calm the butterflies in the stomach in a hostile arena. Playing to their strengths, Pakistan has the capacity to further dent the Indian invincibility on its home soil. England has done it in a milieu that was unfamiliar to them. Given the conditions, this is pretty much our own backyard – save the partisan crowds in big numbers. But when a side gets it right in the middle as Pakistan did, barring a couple of unnecessary hiccups one has to concede, the aisles don’t really matter much. If anything their expressive throats are more of a pressure bearing down on the home side.
So, go Pakistan, go!