Watch highlights from India vs Pakistan – the 2011 World Cup SemiFinal played at Mohali on March 30
Scoreline: India 260/9 – Sachin Tendulkar 85 (115), Sehwag 38 (25), Raina 36 no (39) | Wahab Riaz 10-46-5, Ajmal 10-44-2
Pakistan 231 all out – Misbah ul Haq 56 (76), Hafeez 43 (59), Shafiq 30 (39) | Nehra 10-33-2, Munaf 10-1-40-2, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Yuvraj, 2 each
Whenever a team loses a big game, it’s natural to search for a villain, usually one individual. When India lost vs SA, it was Dhoni and Nehra. Today, Nehra was picked and was fantastic despite Dhoni later admitting he might have misread the pitch. Similarly, Raina for Yusuf has worked in 2 games. So, when it works, it’s all good. Getting back to this game, it’s quite likely that Misbah will be picked on. It’s usually the case – the last man standing is the last one to stick in your memory. But the reality is several:
i. Pak had it stacked against them when they lost the toss and had to chase something over 250.
ii. The Indian bowling looks and is better than normal when defending a target in a pressure game.
iii. Pak’s fielding fell away. Which further took out the Afridi-inspiration factor that along with Riaz might perhaps have lowered the target
And in the context of Misbah:
i. It’s his game. Even in test cricket, he’ll go through extended periods of silence before exploding in a flurry.
ii. For a long time now, even before Asad Shafiq came in, the need to break up the middle order with someone like Umar Akmal has been obvious but ignored.
Misbah’s threat just needs to be gauged from the Mohali crowd. They were quiet even when it was 30 off the last over and only really came alive when it reached the stage of sixers every ball not being enough.
Sourav Ganguly raised an important point about Sachin while the game was on in which he said it was almost like he was embarrassed to be still batting. As a Tendulkar fan (and a self-proclaimed expert on the man), I’ve always seen that the quality of his batting within an innings goes down, the more the reprieves he gets. Almost like he feels guilty about it.
Great to see Afridi once again taking it well. Those who watched the 2007 T20 final will recall him giving Harbhajan a sincere bearhug after the game was done. My point is not about whether being a sport immediately after a loss is the right or wrong thing. More that it’s a special ability and deserves respect.
What musn’t be forgotten in the middle of all this is that Afridi did what he promised – to lead his team to a WC semifinal when most experts didn’t give them a chance.