Saturday, June 13, 2009

No more butterfingers for Pakistan

Shahid Afridi pulled off a fantastic running catch.

Comeback of the day
The rebel returns. Abdul Razzaq has left the ICL behind and is back on the international stage for the first time in more than two years. He couldn't have wished for a better re-start to his career. With his fourth ball he claimed the key wicket of Brendon McCullum caught at point and raised his arms in celebration. Then in his third over he trapped Martin Guptill leg before and completed the most of rare of Twenty20 breeds - a maiden. The clash created by the ICL appeared to have ended a few international careers early, but let's hope now that more players return. How New Zealand would love to have Shane Bond back.

Catch of the day
There have been some extraordinary catches and pieces of fielding in this tournament, but not many of them from Pakistan. Now, thanks to Shahid Afridi, they have their own moment for the tournament highlights reel. Scott Styris made decent contact as he tried to pull Umar Gul over mid-on and although not out of the middle it looked likely to land safe. Afridi didn't think so. He turned and ran towards long-on, but managed to keep his eye on the ball and an idea of where the boundary was. As the ball dropped he reached out, held on, then managed to put the brakes on in time. The crowd, led by the passionate Pakistan support, cheered as one and Afridi soaked up the moment.

Bowler of the day
There are good Twenty20 bowlers, then there is Umar Gul. They don't come much better. He was a star during the 2007 event in South Africa and here claimed the first five-wicket haul in Twenty20 internationals despite not being used until the sixth option by Younis Khan (and also occupies position three on the list of best figures for good measure). He can produce pin-point yorkers at will, finds reverse swing from a ball less than 20 overs old and has complete trust in his variations. The complete Twenty20 operator.

Angry captain of the day
Daniel Vettori returned from injury for this game, but he may wonder why he bothered as his team had a shocker. By the time Vettori came to the crease New Zealand were 88 for 7 and there was little he could do, but it was important to use up the 20 overs. They couldn't even manage that and when Vettori was run-out with nine balls unused the anger was clear on his face as he trudged off.

Debut of the day
It's been chop and change at the top of Pakistan's order and in this match they tried out another combination with 19-year-old Shahzaib Hasan making his debut. He has very limited experience, but then that can often be the case when Pakistan youngsters are plucked out for international honours. But with just four Twenty20 matches under his belt he played with no fear as the small target was hunted down. There was a hint of top edge to get off the mark, but he drove Vettori handsomely for six and later upper-cut Ian Butler for his most impressive boundary.