Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The deserving champions

Update : 10 Mar 2014, 06:13 PM

Finally, the curtains over the Asia Cup cricket tournament have been drawn. Sri Lanka, as the deserving team, came out victorious and lifted the prestigious Cup. Pakistan, as usual, has been the unpredictable and inconsistent side, with no match plans in sight.

It was not a dream final, but it was certainly expected to be a great game of cricket going down the wires – a real battle between two Asian giants.

Both the teams had a fairly good chance of winning, and also of losing. Although Pakistan, riding on Afridi’s swashbuckling innings in the previous two matches, was seen as likely favorites, nobody wrote off Sri Lanka as the possible winners.

When a team falters in all departments, it naturally gifts the opposition the advantage and makes things easy for them.

The mighty Pakistanis, with their in-form batsmen and battery of seasoned bowlers, came out seemingly a laid back side. Not once had it appeared that they were serious in trying to retain the title.

Pakistan faltered on many counts. After winning a crucial toss, they definitely faltered in deciding to bat first.

Historically, they are supposedly not good chasers. Stats show that when the target is anything more than 250 runs, Pakistan fails to chase and ends up on the losing side. But if the team management sticks to the weaknesses of the past, they do more harm than good for the team morale.

How did Pakistan reach the final? They reached the final by chasing a reasonably good target set by India and a mammoth 300 plus set up by Bangladesh. Almost all the batsmen put in their contribution, and it was Shahid Afridi who showed his inherent mental and physical dexterity in overpowering both India and Bangladesh. His ferocity of hitting sixes will be sweet memories that the cricketing world will cherish. Pakistan did chase the runs and landed in the final.

This should have been considered seriously by the Pakistan coach and skipper, and Pakistan should have sent Sri Lanka in to bat first.

Even if Sri Lanka had put up a score of 270 plus runs on the board, it wouldn’t have mattered to the Pakistan batsmen as they were in high spirits and totally in form.

When they decided to bat first, they should have kept in mind the fearsome bowling of Lasith Malinga and planned properly to see him off in the initial overs.

The first three batsmen failed to negotiate Malinga’s opening spell and were back to the pavilion in no time, with the score tottering at 18 for three. Pakistan actually looked like the losing side right then.

However, Misbah and Fawad played a face-saving knock and salvaged the team to help put up a respectable score on the board. They were assisted by the subsequent venture of Umar Akmal and Fawad. Against all odds, frail and tired Fawad scored a much needed century.

But as Fawad and Umar Akmal struggled to get boundaries, one kept wondering why Afridi wasn’t sent in before Akmal. Since the runs had been coming in slowly, Afridi with his prolific nick could have had a few overs to play and knocked some big shots to reach close to 300. In the end, Pakistan was at least 30 runs short.

Sri Lanka made a good start, thanks to some wayward bowling by Umar Gul and other quickies. Only Ajmal and Hafeez showed some authority. It was Ajmal who raised some hope by taking two prized wickets of Perara and Sangakkara in two consecutive deliveries. Much later, he took another in his 10th over. Wicket-keeping by Umar Akmal was below par.

Sri Lanka never seemed to struggle. They rather won the match with ease and confidence. Sri Lanka is making a comeback to be a force once again. Young ones in the teams are taking over the responsibly with Angelo Mathews leading from the front.

Shoaib Akhtar, the former Pakistan speedster, remarked that win or lose, for Pakistan, all depends on Pakistan themselves.

All said and done, it was an entertaining tournament that we witnessed – ten days of gruelling battle between the teams. Although the host, Bangladesh, could not win a match, we did show signs of our potential in the game. With a little bit of fine-tuning, our boys will fare well in the future and come out with much better colours, God willing.

Afghans created much hype. They shone at times. They are also expected make their mark sooner rather than later in global cricket.

Bangladesh will once again be in the spotlight. The T20 World Cup is just around the corner, and we wait with baited breaths for another round of the battle of the bests.

Remember, T20 is the latest, fastest, and a genuine bashing duel of modern cricket. And Bangladesh is the proud host of this edition of the blockbuster contest.

Top Brokers


Popular Links