Twenty20 World Cup 2009 June 9, 2009

Spin turns Orangemen to lemons

Pakistan discovered that winning is more fun than losing, when they comprehensively defeated Netherlands at Lord's today. Netherlands played with spirit and had an even chance of qualification until Younis Khan introduced the spin pairing of Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi.

From that point onwards, after the sixth over, Pakistan seized complete control of the contest.

The rain kept away and allowed Pakistan's spinners to find improved control and bamboozle the opposition batsmen who are unused to facing such an unorthodox duo.With Pakistan's pacers also finding their length, Younis Khan can be well pleased with their bowling performance and, unusually, the wicket keeping of Kamran Akmal.

Afridi took the crowd's plaudits today with a match-winning spell, a six off the fastest bowler in the match, and Pakistan's first direct hit of the competition in the field.

Pakistan now require the bowlers to continue to be a strength because the batsmen did not score enough to bat Netherlands out of the match. It was good that the senior batsmen took more responsibility but at times, particularly during the partnership between Shoaib Malik and Younis, Pakistan's batting lacked daring and urgency.

Nonetheless, Pakistan's supporters will be relieved that a completely different team turned up today, one that was professional and determined to win. What's more, Pakistan now find themselves in the easier half of the draw with a golden opportunity to reach the semi-finals.

To be more successful, Pakistan require to move to a higher level of performance in their batting and fielding. But the longer they stay in this tournament the stronger they will get, as Pakistan's main handicap--now that they seem to have put their attitude right--is a lack of recent international competition.

A win against Netherlands doesn't make a summer but at least it allows Younis's undercooked team to fight another day.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here