At the very outset, I must say in quite crustal clear terms without any ifs and buts that I am also a human exactly like you or any other human being for that matter, and then, of course, I am a Pakistani too, therefore, purely from humanitarian point of view I have full commiseration and sympathies with the host West Indians, provided my compatriots do not stone me on this account, simply because I really and awfully feel terrible and pity on all those males and females of all ages not limiting to be older than me or even younger than me including those also who are under 18 years of age and the whole lot was too excited, or more correctly too ignited, to very happily spend their hard earned money on buying ticket and left their houses, offices, factories, workshops, universities, colleges, schools, hospitals, clinics, shopping malls and the list goes on and on coming all the way to the see their national heroes playing against Pakistan eleven right before their own naked eyes instead of watching the same match at television screens 2nd T 20 international of the four-matches series played at Providence Stadium, Guyana on Saturday 31st July, 2021 but alas, at the end of the game, very much regretfully their smile is just snatched away from their glowing cheeks surely for none of their fault and they left the stadium with their tearful, swollen, aggrieved pulled down faces instead.
Bravo! Which adjectives / phrases and how many in totality be used by me or, in other words, why must not cluster of adjectives be used is not only certainly a baffling, astounding and mind-boggling question at this point of time to be honest simply because just yesterday only my most beloved compatriot cricketers led by Babar Azam quite categorically, emphatically and very much comprehensively out classed the much fancied and star studded West Indian players both in terms of batting and bowling fields in its truest sense in 2nd T 20 international match played in Gayana right before their own home crowd.
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard, quite luckily won the toss and instead of batting, he preferred to bowl and invited Pakistan to bat first on two very strong assumptions that the captain had very well thought that firstly his lethal ace bowlers will not let our batsmen play shots at will and instead theses bowlers can limit Pakistani batsmen to a very low score like 100 or may be even 125 at the most but not more than that come what may. Secondly, he at his own, had reckoned that West Indians very well known as hard hitters and run making machines, will send the ball to rope purely at their own sweet will and ease without much efforts, thereby, these batsmen can very easily score much more runs than what Pakistanis had scored but alas Kieron Pollard was awfully and grossly mistaken in his such wishful unfounded thinking and approach and therefore, I am pretty sure that now he must surely and definitely be cursing himself for taking such an erratic and faulty decision which eventually ended up in terrible unpleasant defeat that, of course, the players and the nation cannot forget for decades what to talk of years, months, weeks or days.
Before I comment on the match itself, let me just hurriedly say a few words about the recent ground realities of my Pakistani team though quite bitter and not pleasant at all but to my understanding facts can neither be denied nor twisted in any case. Just a couple of weeks before only, England C team not even B team, defeated Pakistani team not only in 1st match or 2nd match for that matter, but in all the 3 One Day Internationals played on England soil which was very humiliating, insulting and blood boiling for Pakistanis including me as well to tell the truth but nevertheless defeat cannot be ignored in any case. However, as an honest person, hard facts must be accepted and not ignored, even if they are against my favorite Pakistani team hence, quite but naturally, Babar and his team players were very much demoralized for losing not only a match but the series as well and, in most quarters in my beloved Pakistan, it was very much apprehensive, faint-hearted and awed that after clean sweep in One Day International matches, Pakistanis may be timid and unable to pick up enough courage and strength to play against England A team in T 20s but yet Pakistanis awfully surprised not only England fans in the country or overseas but also all the cricket playing nations on the face of earth by winning the 1st match of T 20 International but lost the rest two matches resulting in that Pakistan was deprived of winning the series and England succeeded in lifting the trophy.
Just look at the score card and everyone will realize that Babar took a very wise decision not to open himself and instead sent Sharjeel to open the innings with Rizwan despite the hard fact that Babar himself is at the top of the ladder but yet he gave the chance to Sharjeel to open. From the very start both the openers were in awfully aggressive and explosive mood trying to prove that both are very much hungry and thirsty to score. In the 1st over Pakistan, scored 6 runs achieving run rate of 6.50. In the next over the openers have gripped tight the situation whereby run rate had jumped off straight from 6.50 to 9.33. However, in the 3rd over the pair had blasted hitting all around the ground covering all the 360 angles which quite naturally puzzled West Indies captain as to how and where he places his fielders to stop runs raining because now the run rate has swollen from 9.33 to 9.75 as well. Sharjeel did not stay so longer and he went back to pavilion when our score was 46 only. Babar then himself came to bat at one down and now there was like cut-throat competition between captain (Babar) and vice-captain (Rizwan) as to who scores most runs and at what speed? As a matter of fact, Babar wanted to impress and tell Rizwan that I am your captain and that is why I will play better than you while on the other hand Rizwan was giving a loud crystal clear message to his boss that he should not underestimate me in any case. The couple had laid down such a sound, strong and impregnable situation that even if they are back in pavilion, those batters, who follow them will have no problem to carry on with comfort and ease. Babar and Rizwan added 67 runs at very good speed and laid the foundation on very strong footing. Later in the innings, at one stage an awfully shocking stage had cropped up when we were literally chocked and unable to breathe even since our as many as 5 batsmen namely Babar (51) Hafeez (6) Fakhar (15) Hassan (0) and Sohaib (5) were shown the exit door just within three overs scoring only16 runs which had turned us pale to be honest but yet, one way or the other, Pakistan dragged on and succeeded in scoring 157 runs, not an encouraging figure for the loss of 8 wickets during their allotted 20 overs. Jason Holder, it must be mentioned, had very smartly created terror and awe in Pakistan camp because he had been the most successful West Indies bowler who during his 4 overs spell, gave away 26 runs but at the same he did succeed in sending 4 Pakistani batsmen back to the dressing room achieving an average of 6.50 and undoubtedly had Holder not been so ruthless and lethal, Pakistani batsmen must have scored much higher but West Indian bowler had applied brakes to check and limit the visitors.
West Indians were tasked to score 158, if not more, to win the match and I can say with full assurance duly tinged with confidence that their captain Pollard must have been over confident to surmount the meager total of 157 in 15 or 16 overs only instead playing all the 20 allotted overs and I must admittedly open up saying that 157 is just an ordinary score so fat as T20 match is concerned so from that point of view it was quite apparent that the hosts will be able to square up the total. However, being over cautious and over defensive, instead of being offensive, West Indies lost 1st wicket of Fletcher in the very opening over which was nothing short of piercing dagger in the chest, if I am not wrong. Unbelievably, the hosts came under heavy pressure seeing that they had to suffer such a terrible shock in the first over though the victim Fletcher is a seasoned opener. Thereafter, West Indians despite their best possible efforts, simply could not cope up with the pressure which gradually kept on increasing and the hosts were struggling to come out of muddle and puddle and, one way or the other, they kept on losing wickets one after another, of course, with some gaps in between but very soon it became quite evident that West Indies will not be capable to survive to win the match come what may. Chris Gayle is an internationally reckoned high scorer who unluckily has been nailed down in 6th over when he had scored 16 runs and wanted to score minimum half a century, if not more, but as the bad luck had it, Hasan clean bowled him straight away shattering his aspiration to score much more. It will be very much unfair, rather immoral, on my part to be honest if I do not praise West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran who stood up like a rock and was not at all disheartened to see that his colleagues at the other end instead of staying with him are going back without much contribution. He literally quite emphatically blasted all over the ground and runs were virtually raining from his bat as he topped scoring 62 runs with great efficiency and proficiency. Ewin Lewis is the 2nd best New Zealand batsman who contributed very valuable 35 runs at such a critical juncture while the rest batsmen have annoyed not only the selectors but the nation as well for not scoring runs as it was very truly expected of them to hit and raise the total.
West Indies scored 150 runs in their allotted 20 overs at the cost of losing 4 wickets quite categorically proves that number wise the visitors had lost as many as 8 wickets whereas West Indies lost just 4 wickets proving that the hosts were better placed than the visitors but ever since they could not score more speedily, they had to suffer and lost the match by 7 runs which terribly shocked all those who watched the match live either in the stadium or at television screens as the case may be.
Wicket keeper, opening batsman and vice-captain Rizwan has created a history being declared as the most successful batsman who scored maximum runs in one-year time upsetting the previous record held by Paul String of Ireland who had scored 748 runs in 365 days.
Mohammad Hafeez nick named professor is adjudged as Man of the Match since he bowled his allotted 4 overs including one maiden, taking one wicket and giving away just 6 runs.
What a sheer bad luck that the 3rd match of the current series scheduled on Sunday 1st August to be played in Providence has been washed out due to heavy rains. The match did start after much delay as the ground staff succeeded in sweeping and draining out rain water but still only 2 overs could be bowled as rain came back but very heavily and the match had to be abandoned as it happened in the opening game which too could not be played in Barbados due to rain.
Now on Tuesday 3rd August, 4th and the final T20 match is to be played in Providence which will be too exciting to watch as Pakistan which has already won one game will try to consolidate their position to win the last match and lift the coveted trophy while, on the other hand, the host West Indians facing do or die situation will go all out to win the match so that they not only stop Pakistan lifting the trophy but also succeed in squaring up the account.
I not just wish but pray that my Pakistani heroes win the final 4th T 20 and eventually earn one more laurel not just for the team but the nation as a whole.
Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait / email@example.com