Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me for the 384736th time - I don’t know, I suppose? Not for the first time this summer, rain played spoilsport to walk away as the victor. But hey, I still managed to somehow sneak in 750 words of content. Who’s the actual winner now?
I was so glad that England batted first. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there were fireworks upfront, right?
I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong. England tearing the bowling apart up-front was my fantasy too, but what instead transpired was six overs of the Pakistan bowlers literally strangulating the English batsmen. There were just three boundaries hit in the entirety of the first six overs. Would you believe it?
Uh oh! Now this I wasn’t expecting. So, I’m assuming we got the PSL version of Tom Banton then?
I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong - AGAIN! In fact, well, you’re partially right. So for seven overs, we got the PSL Tom Banton - he was sluggish, especially because Pakistan started with spin, and he struggled to time the ball. But BOOOM, post the seventh over, perhaps for the first time in international cricket, we got to witness the Vitality Blast Banton. After the seventh over, Banton struck 51 runs off 23 balls and hit FIVE HUGE SIXES en route a 71. Some absolutely beastly batting! Phew!
INTERESTING. So did the batting - barring Banton - stink then?
Oh yes it did. Dawid Malan (23) was the second-highest (!!!) run-getter in the English innings and barring Banton, the rest combined to score 54 off 55 balls at a strike-rate of less than run-a-ball. To call England’s innings a one-man-show would be an understatement. It was Tom Banton vs Pakistan, to be honest!
I’m curious. Was the pitch thaaaaaaat bad?
It was definitely on the slower side, yes, and it required batsmen to dig in and work hard for their runs. Malan and Banton were prepared to do that and so they succeeded, while the others were, quite frankly, a bit lazy. In fact, Malan might very well have posted a very big score had Banton not sold him down the river. On the flipside, at least this ‘sacrifice’ will convince skipper Morgs that Malan is, after all, not too selfish. Remember this accusation? Yeah.
I bet the Pakistan spinners had a ball today!
In terms of keeping the runs tight - not so much. But in terms of picking wickets? My god they ran through England. In fact, barring Malan’s run-out, all five wickets were picked by spinners. Together, Imad, Shadab and Ifthikar leaked runs at almost eight an over, but what was particularly impressive about the trio, specifically Imad and Shadab, was the way they came back after being hit. Speaks volumes about their confidence and self-belief.
So it was the pacers who kept the lid on England, then? Weird.
Right. Everyone barring Haris Rauf. Haris had a mare - he leaked 32 off his 3 overs and, particularly towards the end, he was carved apart nonchalantly by Banton. The left-armers, Amir and Shaheen, however, were indomitable. Sure they had no wickets to show for their brilliance, but they exploited the slow nature of the wicket to perfection. Shaheen tormented the top-order batsmen through the angle across the right-hander, while Amir used his variation to great effect to outfox the Englishmen. It was a viewer’s delight, to be honest. But yes, “weird” to see England be dominated by pace in limited-overs cricket, that too at home.
Who was, according to you, Pakistan’s MVP from the first innings then. Shaheen Afridi? Imad Wasim?
Oh this I can say with conviction - Mohammad Rizwan. Holy smokes this dude’s on a completely different level altogether. The Pakistan spinners, in fact, have Rizwan to thank for. First he pulled off an outrageous reflex catch then backed it up with a ludicrous stumping in the very next over. You cannot tell me that he isn’t the best glovesman in the world right now - at least going by form. Showstopper, this lad!
Wait.. You’ve been rambling ONLY about England’s batting / Pakistan’s bowling. What’s going on here?
Haha gotcha. I’m afraid it’s yet another victory for rain. Only 16.1 overs were bowled in total in the game. The players went off the field around 11:50 PM IST and never came back. Well, there were some talks of the umpires going ahead with a five-over game, but they eventually did the sensible thing and called the game off. I mean, maybe they would have played on had a bowler been on 599 T20I wickets - who knows? Different days, different personnel, different rules.
So...all this for nothing?
Nailed it. All this for nothing. My only takeaway from this game? Tom Banton is a genius up-front and should not be batted elsewhere. Goodnight!