January 9, 2010

Pakistan in Australia 2009-10

Pakistan will overcome the Sydney tragedy

Nitin Sundar

Life has come a full circle for Pakistan’s cricket at Sydney. Writing in the Dawn, Saad Shafqat notes that 33 years before last week’s heart-breaking defeat, the SCG had been host to Pakistan’s “most heartwarming Test match”.

Imran Khan took 12 famous wickets under Mushtaq Mohammad’s captaincy and announced Pakistan’s arrival as a frontline Test nation. To millions of Pakistan fans, it felt like a sunrise in Sydney.

Shafqat is confident that Pakistan cricket will overcome the debacle posed by the defeat, having survived several grave crises in the past.

As we try and grope our way through the misery, it is important to remember that cricket is a resilient sport and Pakistan is a resilient country. Pakistan cricket has weathered more turmoil than cricket in any other nation. A forfeited Test match, shameful doping scandals, mysterious death of the national coach and terrorists shooting at a visiting team — it has all happened to Pakistan. In any other country, such onslaught would have wrecked the whole cricket enterprise. In Pakistan, cricket soldiers on.

In the same paper, Ahsan Butt notes that the Sydney catastrophe has firmly put Younis Khan back in the reckoning.

...Younis has his problems. He’s a bit of a baby and he’s too thin-skinned. But while he tends to be emotionally unstable, his mental strength as a batsman is what sets him apart, especially in the second innings of Tests when teams are usually batting under pressure. Think about this: Younis has six second-innings hundreds (out of 16 overall) and his second-innings average is only three runs lower than his overall average. As a comparison, Yousuf only has four second-innings hundreds out of 24 overall, and his average drops off by eleven. Sachin Tendulkar has 11 second-innings hundreds out of 43 overall, and his average drops off by 12. Younis plays well when the pressure is really on – and we all know the pressure was on in Sydney.

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Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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