Sports

Five bowling performances of the decade

Written by Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi|Sports|January 5, 2020

Pakistan didn’t have the services of greats like Wasim or Waqar but that gave some youngsters a chance to either cement their place in the side or make a huge contribution in their little time with the team

Mohammad Amir

Pakistan has always been a land of quality bowlers who have at times won matches single-handedly with their performances. The Green-shirts didn’t have the services of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in the last decade but that gave some youngsters a chance to either cement their place in the Pakistan side or make a huge contribution in their little time with the national side. Five such performances that will define the outgoing decade for fans of the game are discussed here. Your favorite over might or might not feature here, but that’s because the five here were more important than the rest. Read on:

When Aizaz Cheema Proved True To His Word!

Venue: Dhaka

Date: 22nd March 2012

Opposition: Bangladesh

It was the final of the Asia Cup, with Pakistan playing against Bangladesh, in a jam-packed Bangladeshi stadium with their Prime Minister Hasina Wajid in attendance. The tense match was down to the last over. The hosts needed 9 runs off 6 balls to win the Asia Cup for the first time. Aizaz Cheema wasn’t as experienced as Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal or Shahid Afridi but he was the one who had overs remaining and had bowled in the match besides Hammad Azam. After a single off each of his first two deliveries, there was a dot ball and Pakistan had the match in their grasp, 7 runs needed off 3 balls. Pakistan made a mess on the fourth ball resulting in 3 runs, bringing Bangladesh closer to victory. However, Aizaz Cheema had his eyes on the Aizaz, the Asia Cup trophy, and he bowled Abdur Razzak on the fifth ball, leaving the hosts with 4 runs required off 1 ball. A yorker on the leg stump meant just one run scored off the final ball and a Pakistan victory by 2 runs; what made the win more special was the fact that it came minutes before Pakistan Day and made the Bangladeshi PM leave the stadium before the award ceremony, more in disgust than in shame.

When Indians Had No Answer To Junaid Khan’s Thunderbolts

Venue: Chennai

Date: 30th December 2012

Opposition: India

Five years after defeating Pakistan 3-2 in their last bilateral series at home, Indians were back playing Pakistan who were without spot-fixing stars Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. The hosts might have thought that they would defeat this new-look Pakistan side but Junaid Khan had other ideas. The tear-away pacer was on top of his game in the first match and dismissed Virender Sehwag for 4 in the fourth over, Virat Kohli for naught and Yuvraj Singh for 2 in the sixth over to reduce the world champions to four down for 20 runs. He came back to dismiss Rohit Sharma for 4 to end the match with 4 wickets for 43 runs, a performance that set the mood for the series. Three of his four victims were done for the pace, making Junaid Khan an overnight sensation. He may not have won the Man of the Match award that went to the losing Captain Virender Sehwag (for unknown reasons) but Pakistan won the first two matches of the series against the newly-crowned World Champions. Junaid also ended the second match of the series with 3 wickets, including Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli (again!).

When Shahid Afridi Returned To The National Side In Style

Venue: Providence

Date: 14th July 2013

Opposition: West Indies

After being dropped for his inconsistency, Shahid Afridi was making a comeback in the national side. He couldn’t have chosen a better match than this one – at five down for 47 in 20 overs, he entered the ground and left after taking the score to 167 in 39 overs. His personal score was a 77-ball 76 that included six fours and five sixes. It was because of him (and skipper Misbah ul Haq) that Pakistan managed to post 224 runs on the board. Not that it mattered because out of the 10 wickets to fall in the West Indian innings, Shahid Afridi accounted for 7. The hosts were bowled out for 98 runs in 41 overs with Afridi ending with 7 wickets for 12 runs. No one else could have been the Man of the Match!

When Mohammad Amir Took Over-Confident Indians To The Cleaners

Venue: The Oval

Date: 18th June 2017

Opposition: India

The last time these two teams faced each other, India came out on top and made a mockery of Pakistan in TV commercials and even on the ground. That was in their first encounter of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017; their next meeting was in the grand finale where the Men in Blue were confident of another easy victory. They didn’t take Mohammad Amir into consideration who came, who bowled and won the match for Pakistan. Chasing 339 runs to win the title, Indians began disastrously. Rohit Sharma departed for a duck, after being declared not out a ball earlier. Virat Kohli lasted 9 balls and survived one dropped catch but his innings was cut short after scoring 5 runs. In-form Shikhar Dhawan managed to score 21 off 21 balls before the 22nd sent him back; all three wickets fell to Mohammad Amir who many had said did not merit a place in the team. Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Junaid Khan (again) managed to take the rest of the wickets as India was bowled out for just 158, losing the match by 180 runs, and giving Pakistan the mauka to lift the ICC Champions Trophy, the only one they didn’t have in their cupboard.

When Yasir Shah Hunted The Kiwis In The Desert

Venue: Dubai

Date: November 2018

Opposition: New Zealand

Fourteen wickets in a Test match by a Pakistani bowler was a feat achieved once, that too by Imran Khan in 1982 against Sri Lanka. Abdul Qadir came close in 1987 when he finished with 13 wickets in a Test, so Yasir Shah’s feat was special. After more than 36 years, Pakistan had a bowler who could destroy the opposition twice and finish with 70% of the wickets to fall in a match. It was a good toss to win as Pakistan posted 418 runs on the scoreboard thanks to Haris Sohail’s and Babar Azam’s centuries, and Azhar Ali’s 81. In their first innings, New Zealand were bowled out for 90, with Yasir Shah doing the trick with 8 wickets. Apart from the top three, no batsman was able to enter the double figures. Before they could rest and regroup, Yasir Shah was back in the game hunting the Kiwis and ending their resistance at 312, adding 6 wickets to his name. It was during that series that he broke the 82-year-old record held by Clarrie Grimmett to reach 200 Test wickets in the fewest matches. The Aussie Grimmett took 36 matches, Yasir did that in 33!

About the author

Omair Alavi