In anticipation of the great win I had prepared this: 30th March 2011 is a day to remember:
India Defeated by Pakistan in a World Cup Semi Final in Mohali. What history made. What performance shown. What drama seen. What scenes displayed. What jubilation experienced. Pakistan to take on Sri Lanka in a sub continental final on Saturday in Mumbai. Both teams will be playing in their 3rd World Cup Final having clinched the title once previously and the other time ended up as runners up. Which will it be this time? For now well done the lions in green. You have made us proud. It is a great occasion and one that will live in the memories of all Pakistanis who got to witness it!
Reality was different.
So near, yet so far. A successful and memorable World Cup campaign in many ways more than one comes to a heart breaking end with Pakistan defeated by arch rivals India by a margin of 29 runs in Mohali's second Semi Final. India book their place in Saturday's final against Sri Lanka. Pakistan only have their below par batting and undesirable tactical defensiveness to blame.
Nonetheless, well played India and lets accept this defeat gracefully. We should be proud of what our team has accomplished when not many people gave them a chance. They have exceeded expectations and had some key highlights during the tournament to take pride out of. They made their mark on the globe once more and restored a sense of direction. So as a Pakistani fan/follower let's put this symbolically tough defeat into perspective and consider what could have been and what actually has been achieved in order to reach the climax stages. Let's not get down on ourselves without forgetting the good.
Leading Run Scorers For Pakistan in the tournament:
Misbah Ul Haq-248 including 3 50s average: 50.
Umar Akmal-240 include 2 MOMs average: 48.
Leading Wicket Takers For Pakistan in the tournament:
Shahid Afridi 21 wickets
Umar Gul 14 wickets
There were so many calls for the youngster to be dropped at the expense of the speed star for the heavily hyped clash but the management decided against it and stuck with their emerging left arm fast bowler who had been part of a successful combination and featured in some fantastic wins. I personally stressed in my preview that the management were in the best position to decide on Akhtar. I would not have liked to see Wahab dropped as I rated him highly and he had been impressive in his short career. He had the pace, variety, heart and old ball credentials to knock over the best in the business and had been a superb find. As it turned out he was the star of the show which rose to the wonderful occasion and arguably should have also been awarded the MOM. The surprise package provided a sense of cutting edge to the attack and produced tremendous deliveries against a high profile batting line up in front of a packed house in Mohali and beyond. A performance to remember. A day he shall certainly not forget. He pulled the game back, got Pakistan into a winning position where they could effectively have taken the game away from the opposition and dismissed the dangerman (Yuvi) on his home hunting ground with a superb reverse inswinging yorker which shocked an excitable crowd.
Slow scoring to blame?
In my view Kamran, Hafeez, Asad all gave their wickets away with poor shot selection. The pressure was mounting on Younis and Misbah even before they arrived at the crease. You cannot expect them to do the rescue job time and time again. Playing catch up is not the way they operate. Either they should be able to command the game forward by batting higher up the order and stamp their authority that way or they should be used as seeing the game through and accumulating on a good start. They got caught in between where their effectiveness is nothing. Younis was totally out of sorts by his high standards and Misbah struggled, but he hung in there and battled through. Throughout the tournament there was a lack of innovation and aggression from the captain and management in the team composition and batting strategy which proved costly. Overall, this probably was the ODI swansong for both Misbah and Younis and we have to think towards the future. Throughout, the tournament they did well and were key for the success Pakistan experienced in reaching the final 4. However, they could and should have got 261 against India's bowling and the whole batting performance and mindset must be assessed if any post mortem reviews are to be held on the matter.
Food For Thought
As it stands Pakistan have lost their 5th World Cup Match against India. Yet to beat India on the big stage. They have been knocked out at the semi final stage for the 4th time in 6 occasions during Cricket World Cup history. They have never won a World Cup semi final against a team other than New Zealand. They have been knocked out in the semi final stages during ICC tournaments for the 3rd time consecutively to go along with defeats in the 2010 ICC World TwentyT20 Championship against Australia and 2009 Champions Trophy against New Zealand.
The all Asian Final promises a lot and both Sri Lanka and India thoroughly deserve their places. From a neutral eye it should be an interesting and well matched up contest. From a Pakistani point of view, I guess there is something we can psychologically take out of regardless of the outcome. For example, if Sri Lanka wins we were the only team which defeated them during their campaign to glory. Likewise if India wins at least we can say we were defeated by the champions who were heavily regarded as hot favourites for the title by many pundits.