It has taken an inordinately long time, but Shahid Afridi has finally come of age. His performance in the T20 semi final against South Africa was the stuff of legends. The batting was restrained, with the hitting confined to the vacant spaces. There were no wild-eyed swipes that have tormented his fans in the past. As a bowler, Afridi has been almost unhittable, with a bewildering array of variations that keep the batsmen hopping. The South Africans did not have a clue as to how to play him. Gibbs presumed a leg break and left a gate you could drive a tonga through. The consistent De Villiers also perished to a straight one. After each dismissal he stood in the middle of the pitch, facing the crowd, arm raised in triumph, sharing his triumph with his fans. And it is this electric presence on the field that makes Afridi stand out. There is no cricketer on the world stage that galvanizes a crowd as he does, and therein lies his greatness. Umar Gul has developed into a bowler of the highest class, with pace, control and deception that has proved too much for even the best batsmen. One can only wonder what he could accomplish in harness with the luckless Mohammad Asif. Along with Saeed Ajmal, the youngster Aamir, and the admirable Razzaq, Pakistan have an attack that can defend any target. Younis Khan has led the team adequately, apart from the outrageous decision to give Fahad Alam the ball at a critical time. Alam had not bowled throughout the competition and duly gave up 15 in the over. That almost gave South Africa the opening that they were seeking. A couple of sixes would have made a mockery of the run rate. But then Umar Gul shut them out with a couple of outstanding overs. Perhaps Razzaq could have been sent in at number four. He is an outstanding six hitter and yet does not sell his wicket cheaply. What was striking about the Pakistan team's performance was the way it played as a unit. Every player looked in calm focus, clearly sticking to a team plan. Dare one say that this could partly be to the absence of prima donnas in the side, a malignancy that has been the bane of the Pakistani teams of the past decade? There is a lesson to be learned from this. No player, however good, is indispensable. It is the team that matters and the quicker our selectors latch on to this very obvious maxim, the better it will be for our cricketing fortunes. Intikhab Alam was coach of the 1992 World Cup winning squad and is now in the final of the T20 World Cup. A much travelled, seasoned veteran, Intikhab, a low key, soft spoken person has quickly realised that there is not much that a coach can do to improve a team, other than offer tactical advice. And he knows that it is the captain's prerogative to heed that advice, such being the hierarchical structure of cricket. Inti has been wise enough to let his players play their natural, instinctive game, without undue meddling and the team, after a difficult initiation, has blossomed. Pakistan's opponents in the final are the rampaging Sri Lankans who have gone through the competition unbeaten. In the semi-finals they were too good for the West Indies. Tillekaratne Dilshan has laboured long in the shadows of his illustrious counterparts, but this World Cup has turned him into a star. Dilshan pillaged the West Indies attack with a ninety plus, anchoring the innings after the stars had gone quickly. And then it was Matthews who struck three telling blows at the very start to leave the West Indies gasping at 1 for 3. The game was essentially over despite Chris Gayle's lone vigil. So, on today, it will be two South Asian teams, both emerging from some tormenting experiences. The Sri Lankans from their ordeal at Lahore and Pakistan, deprived of international cricket because of conditions at home. Sri Lanka look the more balanced, consistent side, with a strong batting line up backed up by two best spinners in the business. There is also Lasith Malinga, who is difficult to get away because of the low and awkward trajectory of his delivery. Pakistan are also batting consistently and their bowling has been a revelation. It might just boil to a couple of outstanding individual performances that could turn the game. T20 is such a short game that it takes but one or two performance gems or errors to turn the tide. Pakistan would do well to bat solidly, leaving Afridi and Razzaq to accelerate. A total of 150 could be defendable if Umar Gul and the spinners fire. A sixth sense says that Razzaq, with his calm, relaxed approach and extensive experience, might just make the difference with bat and ball as well as with some inspirational work in the field. Sri Lanka would also be looking to put up a fighting total and then let their defenders challenge it. They are fully capable of doing so and it will take an extraordinary effort from our boys to get the better of them. This World Cup has been a fan's delight with Cinepaxes in Islamabad sold out in advance. There have been huge lines waiting to get in even though people could just as well have watched at home. The reason is the time frame of the game. It is over in three hours of whiz bang action. The PTF tennis camps in Islamabad are mired in controversy. After three of Pakistan's best youngsters were banned from practicing at the PTF complex on the pretext that they would indulge in politics, unknown, unranked youngsters from Islamabad Club were put into the camp. The five idle courts were locked in order to prevent the ranked players from practicing. Is anyone listening?