The electric contest would have made everyone sit up and take notice. Even those who may have mentally switched off on the game after Pakistan’s pathetic batting display, made considerably worse by their chaotic running between the wickets, would have had their attention grabbed again the moment Amir bowled his first over. This was dramatic stuff as the ball curved and curled as if possessed.
The drama had all the trappings of the Wahab Riaz versus the Aussies in the World Cup. This was a more condensed drama of high intensity as it also marked the real return of the prodigal to the heat of international cricket action. The cricket world, including the eternally divided Pak cricket team, may have had mixed opinions about Amir’s comeback. After that spell, all misgivings would have been washed away.
The boy destined to rock fast bowling akin to Wasim Akram’s advent in 1985 may have lost his way in life for a while, but he has lost nothing of the art of moving the ball, still making it duck back as if he were pulling it on a string. With all that happening at around 145 kmph, we know batsmen other than the very best won’t even have the time to respond properly.
Take Suresh Raina for instance, such an accomplished T20 batsman and yet had no time to get bat to swinging ball. It took the Virat Kohli battle to bring out the nuances of the game even in its shortest format. Thanks to Pakistan’s measly 83, he did not need to think of counterattacking and all he did was try to keep Amir out. Had Kohli needed to push on, we might have had the mother of all contests, something like Sachin on the move against Shoaib Akhtar in the World Cup of 2003 at the Centurion in South Africa.
It was back and across in studious defence for Kohli as he dug in to get India out of the hole. Amir may even have had him in trouble once. That was the only moment of uncertainty as Kohli kept out the other deliveries he faced, concentration fierce in commitment to team cause. Rarely do we witness such intense batsman versus bowler epic within the confines of a T20 contest.
T20 can turn a team upside down in a couple of over but the feeling persists that there would be no real challenge to Team India in the Asia Cup even if there were moments in the Pakistan game thrust some doubts about the superiority of India’s T20 batting. Maybe, if India had to bat first against Pakistan pace the matter of fixing a goal in terms of runs might get tricky, particularly if they have to mark out the Amir overs for minimal return.
There is, however, sufficient ammo in the willow department to get India over the line in any conditions in the final too and the real test would probably come around the last four stage in the T20 worlds. The simple principle is Indians are far better at hitting the ball on the rise than any other set of batsmen in the world although there are individual exceptions around in many of the teams.
The ‘Hit’man is a perfect example of this hitting power, which is why the name sits so well on Rohit who has reinvented his game so well after the advent of T20 after making a splash in ODIs ages ago on an Australian tour.
The batting depth lends the arsenal its formidable look. The fact that the openers fire in unison to get the innings going in at least two innings out of every three takes the free hitting power of the later order to a different level, although some doubts about maximising the end overs remind us of one of those points of eternal cricketing debates.
Team India are a worthy No. 1 in this format and in Asian conditions they are virtually unbeatable in T20.Such is the challenge India’s opponents face....