Cricket was at its very best in Dubai that night!
It offered some high-quality cricket and which is what a cricket-lover relishes the most.
A fighting comeback from a team, a silky hundred from a batsman, some brilliant bowling and of course a tense finish – what do you need more as a cricket lover?
The third One-day international between Pakistan and South Africa is a part of limited-overs cricket’s folklore.
The ever-improving Shoaib Akhtar jolted the South African top order, but one man stood tall and strong to do the repair work. Hashim Amla was as usual at his pristine best. There were occasional improvisations from him but otherwise, he was cool and composed.
When AB de Villiers departed due to an outrageous decision by the TV umpire, it was all left to Amla alone to keep the Proteas batting alive and he did it masterfully with a classic hundred and of course without enough sweating – brace of boundaries to reach a hassle-free fifty, then a sudden quietness and restricting himself to depth touches and then a dab down to third-man to bring up a hundred and then again found the odd boundaries with classic drives and ungainly pull and most importantly he carried the bat through. What a player!
Pakistan’s start was shoddy.
The good work of Imran Farhat and Asad Shafiq came to an end and Pakistan innings lost its way. The last ODI’s hero Razzaq failed and Pakistan’s hopes rested on Fawad Alam – a player with enough talent but yet to create an impact in international cricket.
140 for 6 in the 41st over and still 81 runs more needed and not enough recognized hitter left in stock, Pakistan’s chances looked bleak. But if the team is Pakistan then be sure to expect some twists in the tale. You have to wait for a hero to arrive from nowhere and unleash unrelenting romance.
This time it was Fawad Alam.
Rather than flexing his muscles – as he is not a big hitter of the ball – Fawad played a supportive role to the less-fancied Pakistani hitters. A chicky 28-run stand with Zulqarnain Haider in just three overs came up and when Wahab Riaz notched-up a swashbuckling 21 off just 11 balls and swelling the Pakistani scoreboard – the game was all set to go down the wire.
The South African bowlers Morkel, Theron, and Tsotsobe lost their minds, nerves, line, and length, and fielders were dropping catches – the Pakistanis had dented the South Africans psychologically.
In the 47th over, Morkel accounted for Riaz but still, 20 runs from the last three overs should not have been impossible. But Pakistan needed hitters. Fawad who struggled to clear the ball over the boundaries did take it close but his valiant 59 was not to be a deal-sealing one.
It was such a nerve-wracking finish.
Ultimately cricket was the winner in Dubai.