Match: 2nd T20 Pakistan vs Australia (Pakistan lead the 3 match series 1-0)
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Date & Time: Friday Sep 7th 2012, 21:00 PST / 16:00 GMT
Overall Rivalry: Leading; Pakistan 5 wins Australia 3 wins Momentum in the last five encounters: Edge; Pakistan-3 Australia-2
Weather Report: Partly cloudy in the evening but no chances of rain. Low of 31 Celsius with a heat index of 38 Celsius. It will remain hot and humid as the both teams count down their last days what were possibly the toughest conditions in recent memory.
22 Yard Report: If the first game was anything to go by, it will again be the bowlers who will make merry. The Pakistani chase though indicated that there was enough for the batters as well. The crowd at T20 matches enjoys runs in boundaries but it is the even contest between leather and willow that provides the most absorbing cricket.
Game On: Australia went into the T20 series with the confidence and momentum of the ODI series win behind them. All of that changed as T20 fast bowling ace Umar Gul trapped Shane Watson plumb in front in his first over. The Australian batsmen could never find any sort of fluency in the innings after that. They lost a wicket at every attempt made to up the ante by either finding a fielder in the deep or being outfoxed by a Pakistani bowler.
Pakistan went into bat with the combination of Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Nazir and the in-form Nasir Jamshed was pushed down to the number 3 spot. It is quite clear that even at the age of 30, Nazir needs a stable head at the other end to keep him from jumping down the pitch every two deliveries. Therefore, Pakistan should stick to this order unless the situation demands otherwise. The top order looked comfortable but it was Kamran Akmal’s little flurry of boundaries that was most pleasing. His form will be vital for Pakistan at the World T20 simply because he can fit into any position with ease. Pakistan looked comfortable chasing the small total of 89 and required on 15 overs. The Australian bowlers could do little against an uncharacteristically clinical performance from their opponents.
Pakistan appeared sharp in the field and, coupled with incisive bowling, seemed like a boxer that kept coming at the Aussies. The home side took eight catches without dropping any. This included a surprise from Kamran Akmal, winning him the best catch award amidst a string of never ending $500 cash rewards.
Hafeez was decisive with his captaincy and biggest difference between him and Misbah-ul-Haq was that he kept his strike bowlers on when the Aussies were down.
Robin Jackman, while commenting on the match, perfectly summed up Pakistan’s performance by saying: “This format suits Pakistan more than any other team because it doesn’t give them enough time to self-destruct.”
Things change very fast and just two days after winning the ODI series, the Australians find themselves with a lot to prove. The role reversal also extends out to the two new captains. Considerable pressure is mounting up on George Bailey while a relatively calm Mohammad Hafeez finds himself in a good position. Some captains crack in a situation like this but great leaders relish an opportunity to stand and deliver under the spotlight.
Pakistan will take a lot of confidence from the first game and look to keep the Aussies down in the second. However, the professional Aussie outfit is bound to bounce back and strike a counter punch in typical Australian fashion. Pakistan cannot afford to be complacent, which has happened much too often in the past, and must take the series in the second T20.
A sell out crowd is expected to come on Friday evening looking to chant “Dil Dil Pakistan” at the fall of every Australian wicket.
With large support in stadiums, a warm climate and most importantly sticky wickets, it seems apt that Pakistan plays most if not all its home series here until international cricket returns to Pakistan again.
Game Changer: So much has been said about the impact of Saeed Ajmal during this series and he has managed to live up to expectations every time. How the Australians tackle him during his four over spell will be crucial in their pursuit to level the series and stretch Pakistan into a third game final.