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Anderson terrorises Pak bats
Prem Panicker |
February 23, 2003 05:48 IST
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Pakistan -- on available evidence -- is a team constantly on the lookout for fresh ways to embarass itself.
At Newlands, it outdid itself. Chasing 247 against an attack that, in its last outing, was seriously embarrassed by Namibia and failed to bowl out the minnows, Pakistan managed to last all of 31 overs and score 134. (In contrast, Namibia, on Feb 19, lasted 50 overs and managed 217/9.) England won by 112 runs -- and that margin would have been even greater but for the best partnership of the innings -- 54 for the tenth wicket.
If Pakistan has one overriding problem, it is players more concerned with enhancing personal reputations and being Rambo, than playing for the team.
When they bowled, it was Shoaib Akhtar -- constantly looking at the speed being flashed on the screen after every ball, revelling in the buzz he was creating in the crowd, constantly trying to go faster and faster even at the expense of line, length and direction, and ending up going for 63 in 9.
With the bat, it was Shahid Afridi. The man has a batting average of 23.9 and a bowling average of 39.9. If he switched those around, he'd make for one heck of an all-rounder.
The pity of it, though, is that he is so caught up in his big-hitting prowess that he is more often than not a liability at the top of the order. His performance in the chase here was a classic of its kind: After leaving three balls alone with exaggerated care, he lashed out blindly at the fourth and mishit. He stepped to leg and swung wildly at the fifth -- and smashed it over wide long-on for six. Swung again at the sixth, and touched it behind (Afridi 6 in 6, Pak 13/1 in 3 overs).
The best you can say is that his innings of 6 in 6 balls helped maintain his 100+ career strike rate.
Much has been made of Inzamam's shedding 14 kilos in next to no time. The way he batted today made you wonder though if the big man has in the process become too weak to play the shots he was known for. Facing James Anderson (who bowled at a brisk 139 or thereabouts), Inzamam walked across, for all the world like a blind man on an unfamiliar street using his cane to search for potholes. Nasser Hussain, who had brought in a third slip just for him, wins points for acumen -- the ball went straight to that fielder's gut. (0/1, Pak 17/2 in 3.5)
In Yousuf Youhanna's defence, his best friends will probably say that no batsman wants a fast inswinging yorker first up. Against that, those who watched will want to wonder why, to the first ball he faced -- and this ball the one next to Inzy's dismissal -- he had to try to play to on to a ball of that length. Anyways -- beaten for length and swing, bowled through the gate, sums it up (0/1, Pak 17/3 in 4).
Those wickets came off the last two deliveries of the 4th over. Anwar flicked the hat-trick ball -- the first of the 6th -- down to fine leg, in chancy fashion, for four. And after a shaky start, began to look as though he was finding his timing and range again.
Younis Khan has too many technical imperfections (a characteristic, it would seem, of most of the youngsters Pakistan is trying out) to inspire confidence. He hung around for a while without ever looking 'in' -- and then, in the 15th over, swung hard at a short-pitched delivery from Andrew Flintoff without getting into position for the hook, put a swirling skier up in the air, and watched as Alec Stewart went haring off towards a very short fine-leg position to hold a superb catch (5/27, Pak 52/4 in 14.5).
Anderson, being bowled through as Hussain looked for an early finish, then did his 'two-for-the-price-of-one' act again. In the 18th over -- Anderson's 9th -- he first produced a searing delivery on line of off swinging to middle on yorker length. Anwar went forward looking to flick, missed, and was hit bang in line (29/60, Pak 59/5 in 17.1).
Four balls later in the over, Anderson produced one just short enough and on line of off to square Rashid Latif up. The ball did just enough off the seam to take the edge to the 'keeper (59/6 in 17.2).
Anderson bowled out with 10-2-29-4 on the board -- a superb spell by any yardstick, characterized by consistent pace, swing both ways, and immaculate control over his line, with a tendency to bowl very full more often than not. That display of consistency -- and endurance -- was primarily responsible for reducing Pakistan to 67/6 when the tall young quick bowler finally left the bowling crease.
Followed an interesting over. Wasim Akram, as the senior pro at Lancashire, had been the one to exhort the young Andy Flintoff to discover his potential as a quick bowler. Akram came into this game hoping to make Flintoff his 500th ODI victim -- and ended up on the receiving end of a peppering from his protégé.
Craig White then took over from Anderson -- and struck at once, as Abdul Razzaq lost track of where his off stump was, pushed at a delivery on middle seaming away, and saw the ball clip the top of off (11/21, Pak 71/7 in 21.1).
Akram seemingly didn't like his own medicine -- with first Flintoff, then White testing him with short-pitched stuff, Akram finally hoiked at a short lifter from the latter, top-edged, and duly holed out to fine leg (7/14, Pak 78/8 in 25.2).
Waqar Younis followed his erstwhile bowling partner back to the hut later in the same over -- another lifter from short of length had him fending, for the ball to find the shoulder of the bat and pop up to point (2/3, 80/9 in 25.5).
Shoaib Akthar then produced an exhibition of batting almost as exhilarating as his bowling -- in the 30th over, Akhtar destroyed White with a flurry of sixes and fours, all hit with venomous power, that took 21 runs off the over. He then turned his attention to Flintoff, and swung him over fine-leg for the biggest six yet.
The performance spurred the till-then dormant Saqlain Mushtaq into clubbing a four through long-on, and a ball later, a single to fine-leg brought up the 50 of the partnership in just 29 balls (Akhtar 39 off 14 at that point). Flintoff finally ended it all with a full toss dipping into the base of middle stump -- Akhtar's middle stump, that is, to bowl Pakistan out for 134 and seal a 112-run win.
Going into this game, Pakistan had played at Newlands four times, and lost each time. England had tried thrice, without a win to show for it. One of the teams had to break their individual jinx -- and on the day, England fully deserved to be the one.
England innings >>