He may be a dud with the bat these days, but Pakistan can thank Shahid Afridi’s powers with the ball for their safe progress into the Super Eights. With Saeed Ajmal offering superb support, Pakistan were far too strong for the Netherlands who discovered that lightning doesn’t strike twice, not at an event of this magnitude. So, despite the pathetic showing against England, Pakistan are into the business end of the competition, and two wins against Ireland, New Zealand and Sri Lanka should be enough to seal a semi-final place. A lot depends on the remaining matches and which teams take bonus points into that phase. Pakistan won’t, but having no margin for error they might play their best cricket as they did today.
Posts Tagged ‘Netherlands’
A couple of days ago, one of the readers on the Guardian blog wrote in with a request: “How about an article on how 2020 is boring as hell to watch?” I’m sorry that I didn’t oblige, but I do hope for his sake that he was watching tonight’s remarkable game at Lord’s. As sporting upsets go, this might not be Lake Placid 1980 or Cameroon against Argentina at Italia ’90 – England really aren’t that good – but it was more than enough to remind the so-called big teams that even the slightest bit of sloppiness can be punished in cricket’s most abbreviated and ruthless version. Zimbabwe beat Australia in 2007, and you can just imagine Bangladesh and Ireland now training their sights on an Indian side that organised an extraordinary press conference on Friday to deny rumours of a rift in the squad.
But forget India and a scandal-hungry media. Let’s talk instead of the Netherlands and the true magic of sport. Let’s talk of how England cruised to 100 from 11 overs before limping to 162. Let’s discuss Darron Reekers biffing the sixes that the English couldn’t manage. And what about Tom de Grooth, 30 years old and a serial underachiever until he walked out at Lord’s and walloped 49 from just 30 balls? What of Stuart Broad, the Ashes hope who tried a Jonty Rhodes but proved incapable of hitting the stumps from any angle? And how will England explain the last-over tactics of bowling round the wicket instead of aiming for the stumps?
Paul Collingwood was magnanimous in defeat, saying his team were beaten fair and square, but it should embarrass England that when it came to the crunch, the minnows held their nerve while they lost theirs. Kevin Pietersen should return on Sunday, but the match against Pakistan now assumes winner-take-all proportions. Younis Khan’s side were crushed by South Africa and beaten out of sight by India, and even Dirk Nannes and his Dutch friends will be a tricky proposition now that they can play without fear. Suddenly, the two fancied sides have no margin for error. Twenty20 and boring? Maybe I was watching the wrong game.