The Gul Force He did not take a wicket, yet he bowled the spell of the tournament to scupper South Africa. Exceptional is the word to describe his effort of naught for 19 in three overs. No room to the batsmen to free their arms when the pressure was mounting, and every delivery full of pace, lift and venom - a near perfect spell. With 36 wickets at only 10.58, he is top of the pile in the world in this format of cricket. His tremendous impact in the ongoing event is reflected in two stats: his 12 wickets is the highest and his five-for against New Zealand the best-ever. He also was the highest wicket-taker in Pakistan's 2007 campaign in the same inaugural tournament. Gul's performance today will be the decisive factor in the final outcome. Sri Lanka has a top-notch batting unit but Gul has the right attributes to deliver in a pressure game. If Umar Gul manages to bowl one of his typically fast, accurate and in-your-face spells, Sri Lanka can indeed be routed. The Afridi Factor For long, he has been the quintessential Pakistani cricketer of the last decade or so - when good, exceptionally so, but more often rather lacklustre. But on Thursday, with a large and passionate Pakistani expatriate crowd in Nottingham egging him on, Shahid Afridi swept Pakistan into the final of ICC World Twenty20 with such aplomb that it may become part of our cricketing folklore - especially if Pakistan captures the trophy today. First he dazzled with his willow to lead the side with 51 off 34 deliveries - his first in this format, and also the first in all forms in Pakistan colours in 29 matches. That his leg-spin would deliver was not in question, and in the space of four ball he duly accounted for the two most dangerous South African strikers - Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers. Afridi is a mercurial talent and Pakistan need his talents both with bat and ball in today's game. Afridi's bowling has been exceptional in the last couple of years. The confidence with which he bowls is really heart warming and his presence and enthusiasm in the field lifts his mates. In the last couple of games, he seems to have recaptured the kind of batting form that has often made bowlers and opposing captains cry. If he clicks one more time, and takes on Muralitharan and Mendis with judicious use of the long handle, Pakistan's cause will be well served. The enigmatic Pathan will need to, like he did against South Africa, display aggression with control. Other than glory, a fine all round performance today will perhaps ensure for him 'Player of the Tournament' award.