Chasing 261 against India, Misbah-ul-Haq didn’t panic. As the run-rate climbed, Misbah kept his cool and as wickets fell, he stood firm, maintaining an almost tangible air of lack-of-intent.
Dead-batting the ball again and again, Misbah sought to wear down the Indian attack to the extent that the match had almost gone for Pakistan before he leapt into action. Then, a man sensing his opportunity, he dead-batted some more.
Misbah wasn’t going to be put off by the fact that Pakistan needed eight or nine an over. He was in the zone. Only when the rate reached six runs a ball did he act, at which point he failed to score, surrendering the match.
It was majestic stuff. Fantastically admirable in its sheer wrong-headedness. Recognising that fact, the giant 28,000 crowd – a crowd that even Wolverhampton Wanderers would be proud of – put aside India’s victory in favour of a magnanimous standing ovation for that man Misbah.
Well played, Misbah. Well played.
We might have made our point in the title.
The first match of a seven-match one-day series nobody cares about. There are plenty of matches in which to recover, even if your team loses.
The second match of a seven-match one-day series nobody cares about. There’s still plenty of time to recover.
By the third match, either it’s 1-1 or 2-0. At 1-1, there’s nothing in it and your team can still recover if it loses. At 2-0 you’re losing interest whether your team’s winning or losing.
At 3-3 with one match to go, people care a bit. The next match has something riding on it. It will decide the series. There is jeopardy for both teams and that breeds excitement. However, all that’s being decided is a one-day series that no-one has cared about for the first six matches for the reasons given above. Does anyone really care who wins?
Today, India play Pakistan in a World Cup semi-final. The winner will be in the final, the loser gets knocked out. Jeopardy, consequences, excitement.
Sri Lanka were definitely going to win for most of their run-chase, then they went all cagey and it got interesting and we had to give the match our full attention, then they won anyway.
The point is, we had work to do and we couldn’t do it because Sri Lanka toyed with our expectations. We lost at least a couple of hours and at our rate of pay, that equates to about a fiver. Pay up, Sri Lanka. Pay up.
On the plus side, we did get to see Jesse Ryder carry out a bit of a Leverock. That might be harsh actually. We’re considering downgrading Jesse Ryder from ‘fat‘ to ‘stocky’ or even ‘well built’.
Can this post count as our coverage of the first semi-final? A couple of other websites have ‘gone big’ with it, but we haven’t actually got all that much to say.
Getting a new Australia captain is like getting a new Doctor Who. It takes quite a while to get used to the new one because his face is all wrong.
As a captain, Ricky Ponting was both hugely admirable and a world-class tool. A Ricky Ponting interview normally features lots of plain speaking and references to the importance of Test cricket and this is both refreshing and reassuring. A fundamentally honest guy, there was a lot to like about Ponting at times like this.
On the pitch, his tooldom came to the fore, not least when decisions didn’t go his way. The dummy spittery could reach epic proportions and the infamous haranguing of Aleem Dar during this year’s Ashes was actually only the latest in a long line of incidents where he has had long conversations with umpires that seemed to be about how he was right and they were wrong. ‘Shut up and get on with the cricket’ was the phrase most used by viewers at home.
In terms of how he’s carried out the job in the last couple of years, it’ll be interesting to see how Michael Clarke fares. That’ll provide a basis for comparison. We suspect that Australia’s spin woes will recede just a touch, but we also don’t think Ponting was quite as bad a captain and man manager as many have been making out. International captaincy is a far-reaching and highly pressured job and you don’t last for as long as Ponting did without being half-decent at it.
Ricky Ponting is no longer the enemy figurehead. Now that we think about it, it’s not so much like getting a new Doctor Who as getting a new Darth Vader. Next hate figure please.
Australian fast bowler, Shaun Tait, has announced his retirement from Twenty20 cricket, saying that at the age of 28 he can no longer subject his body to the punishing two-over spells demanded of him.
“I’ve never really been the biggest fan of cricket and I just don’t know that it’s worth putting my body at risk for the game any more. I think the longer formats – Tests, one-dayers and Twenty20s – are probably just a bit too much for me at my time of life, so I’ve made this decision to prolong my Super Over career.”
Tait has recently signed a deal with the Madurai Ultrasultans to compete in next season’s Super Over Super League, a five-over a side competition in which he would only have to bowl six balls in a match – plus the inevitable wides.
There are three ways you can approach this. There’s the documentary, the highlights and the box set, which is the first two sold together.
We won’t review the highlights, because they’re pretty self explanatory, suffice to say that there are five DVDs and highlights of every day of the series. The commentary is from Australia’s Channel Nine and events like Peter Siddle’s hat trick benefit from that with Mark Taylor a genuine enthusiast, not just a man doing a job.
The first thing to say about the documentary, The Inside Story, is that it isn’t an inside story. There’s a lot of talking head stuff, a tiny bit of turning-up-the-stump-microphone and some footage of players ambling about doing not a lot between matches (Michael Clarke telling some Aussie schoolchildren that Dougie Bollinger is ‘not the smartest’ being a fairly typical example).
There’s also quite a bit from the two captains, which we were quite surprised by (how do they find the time?) Other players feature too, but to be honest the pundits are better, because they don’t have to watch what they say quite so much – Mike Selvey’s near-contempt for Mitchell Johnson being a good example of this.
There’s a lot of Selvey and we always feel he’s worth listening to. His presence as well as that of the captains and the Channel Nine commentators lends some weight to the documentary and makes it feel authoritative, which is very important. There’s a certain amount of Mark Nicholas too. Not so sure about that.
Basically, it’s a review of the 2010-11 Ashes and that’s no bad thing. If you haven’t got nine and a half hours to watch the highlights, what are you going to do? The Inside Story is comprehensive and definitive and allows you to relive the whole series in one evening.
Or get both. You get to watch full highlights of day one of the Boxing Day Test if you do that.
When Tillakaratne Dilshan opened the bowling, Andrew Strauss couldn’t get him off the square. This was largely because he couldn’t make contact with the ball.
When one of the most experienced batsmen in English cricket finds himself in this position against a part-time off-spinner, you have to ask yourself whether his team could ever win a World Cup on the subcontinent? Never say never, but think the word to your heart’s content.
It may have been one of the best campaigns ever from an entertainment point of view, but cricket-wise England were like a baby deer on roller skates going down a hillside – constantly in danger of falling, with every upright second merely postponing the inevitable.
One of the main reasons why England’s World Cup efforts are always so ineffectual is because people like us aren’t particularly bothered when they get knocked out. We would have absolutely loved to have seen England in the World Cup final, but their absence from it brings virtually no pain.
Exceptional cricket. That is how you exploit a weakness.
At 108-2 chasing 222, South Africa seemed untroubled, but there was a spot on their face. It was very small, but it was there. With the dismissal of Jacques Kallis, they gave it a little bit of a scratch and took the top off it, drawing a faint speck of blood.
What New Zealand did then was magnificent. They sawed off Mount Everest, tipped it over, inserted the tip into that blemish and pushed. Bringing the field in, surrounding the South Africans, they pushed and they pushed and they pushed until that tiny break in the skin was a wound and then they pushed some more until South Africa split in two.
That is how you win big cricket matches. Full marks to New Zealand. References to South African mental frailty do them a grave disservice.
Make a note. This could barely be a bigger deal even if it had a tumour in its pituitary gland.
It’s India v Pakistan. It’s Shahid Afridi v MS Dhoni.
It’s Pakistan’s lethal bowling attack against India’s jaw-dropping batting line-up.
It’s India’s two-and-a-half frontline bowlers against Pakistan’s two-and-a-half competent batsmen.
It’s utterly different teams who are somehow inexplicably well-matched.
One things’s for certain: Sachin Tendulkar doesn’t need a fifth chance to make the opposition pay. Surely Kamran Akmal can grasp that concept even allowing for his quite staggeringly woeful grasping ability.
India are through to a World Cup semi-final. Australia are out. Ricky Ponting’s proved his class with a hundred. Everyone’s happy.
There are no losers in this situation. None whatsoever. No-one who matters is in any way disappointed with the events of today. It is one of those rare moments where we can all join together and celebrate.
It is a win-win-win outcome. Well played India. Well played Ricky Ponting. What a great result for humanity.
Not to labour the point, but no-one is at all unhappy with this result.