pakistan took brilliant start in the World t20 Cup campaign stamping their first triumph against one of the favourites teams New Zealand but the match provided arguably the most gripping contest of the mega event.
The New Zealanders had themselves to blame with a sloppy fielding performance but righted those wrongs with a plucky chase using one of their less conventional batting line-ups in recent times. They reshuffled their batting order to achieve the victory target of 178 set by pakistan team but they fell 13 runs short and were restricted to 164 in the full quota of overs.
New Zealand errors were regular which included misfields, overthrows and harbour bridges over the ball. Their position looked ominous at the end of the 13th over with pakistan 118 for one (a run rate of 9.07). Yet they dragged themselves back. Cue three wickets in 13 balls, one each to James Franklin, Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori.
New Zealand assembled a bizarre batting line-up to combat the Pakistanis with Nicol and Kane Williamson opening, Vettori at No 4 and Oram at No 5. The problem with the chase lay in batsmen getting starts but failing to go on. Nicol with 33 and Brendon McCullum with 31 promised most. Nicol’s lofted off drives were a treat while McCullum could be considered unlucky; he appeared to play the ball onto his boot off Umar Gul. It ballooned and came down with just enough momentum to dislodge a bail.
Williamson and Nicol did well opening in place of the injured Martin Guptill. They made 53 runs in 6.3 overs - a run rate of 8.15. However, both benefited from not having to face the wrath of Shahid Afridi or Saeed Ajmal, two of the premier spinners in the game. Afridi tore out Nicol’s off stump in his first over and Ajmal finished with the best figures of the match: four wickets for 30 runs. Their 164 for nine came up 13 runs short of Pakistan’s 177 for six.
Earlier, Nasir Jamshed led the way in just his fourth t20 international, the 22-year-old left-hander, had a stroke for every delivery on his way to 56 runs off 35 balls. He eased the ball off his pads, drove through the covers and, when late call-up Adam Milne dropped short, the sweet spot of Jamshed’s bat was there to hook him for six. His second-wicket partnership of 76 with captain Hafeez was the heart of the pakistan total. Hafeez should have been caught by Ross Taylor in a regulation slip catch on the third ball of the innings from Kyle Mills.
Taylor looked up at Mills in disbelief; Mills’ eyebrows knitted into an almighty frown. It was a surprise error from the captain who has the most catches (27) in t20 internationals. The mistake cost New Zealand 43 runs.
Mills was again unfortunate when Rob Nicol palmed a flat pull shot over the boundary for six from Jamshed. It was a ground-swallowing moment. Jamshed was on 34 at the time; the mistake penalised New Zealand a further 22 runs.
At that stage it was felt that pakistan would post around 200 runs on the board. After Hafeez departure, Kiwis took control of the game and halted the free scoring from Pakistani batsmen. pakistan added 51 runs during the first six overs of powerplay for losing just one wicket. Nazir scored a quickfire 16-ball 25 with the help of five boundaries.
Captain Hafeez might have let pakistan down due to his poor field changes and placing. New Zealand scored more runs in the last five overs than pakistan and nearly took match away from the pakistan reach.
It was felt that sometimes Hafeez alias professor failed to use his mind due to pressure and looked incapable of leading his team as he looks discomfort during the pressure situations of the match yet fairy of luck helped green shirts and they won the match by 13 runs.
Now they must learn from mistakes and go to field to conquer every team to become victor of the 2012 World Twenty20 Cup.