June 23, 2001

Just déjà vu or an action replay?

Mudassar Nazar
Mudassar Nazar
Photo © CricInfo
Was it déjà vu or really an action replay of the WC'99 final?

Despite all my attempts trying to keep myself awake, I can't help but drift into some kind of trance, finding myself at Lord's 1999 - revisit the same Pakistan capitulation after winning the toss and the subsequent domination by Aussie batsmen.

Ok! Was one difference though, apart from 20 more runs than before, in 1999 Australia won by only 8 wickets. Today they did it for the loss of just one wicket, that too a fortunate and needless run out!

Inzamam on a long linger at the crease after being given out lbw to Warne
Photo © CricInfo
In all seriousness, batting first was not such a bad idea (although personally, I would've liked to bowl first, as there's always a bit of moisture in the morning at Lord's). Even the pitch report by Ian Botham recommended batting. The wicket was to play evenly early on and wear out as the day progressed.

It certainly did that. When Pakistan started, many deliveries bounced a bit uncomfortably and later some kept very low when Australia was chasing. Had there been 60 to 70 more runs for Pakistan on the board, the match might not have been so one-sided.

However, I must admit, Australians played so magnificently that batting first or last, Pakistan would have always come out on the wrong side. I don't think even the most ardent Pakistan fans would disagree?

Gillespie and Wasim
Gillespie has just bowled Wasim for 17
Photo © CricInfo
Pakistan made a good though tentative start - 50odd runs for one wicket was not bad going at all, only a bit ploddy. Yet it was wasted, I repeat wasted, mainly because of one poor shot by Saeed Anwar. It was really suicidal for him to throw his wicket away after getting more than 25 against his name, and especially after seeing off the fearsome duo of McGrath and Gillespie, the last ball of the 15th over.

However, for me, the turning point really came when Inzamam was adjudged lbw off Warne. Well, it was a close one and for me a 50-50 chance for the batsman and the bowler. For most Pakistani fans it was a rough decision by Peter Willey, they may have wanted the 'front-foot norm' to go in the batsman's favour. What's important is the Aussies deserved it, considering the way they were bowling at that stage and the insipid somewhat 'rabbit-like' batting taking place.

Razzaq, too, got off to good start, only to ruin it later on. Though his was an entertaining knock, but, for me, it was without any game plan. Rashid and Wasim played sensibly for a while and it looked they may last out the full fifty overs. But yet again the brilliant Aussies made sure that wasn't going to be.

Adam Gilchrist
Adam Gilchrist cuts a ball past Inzamam-ul-Haq as Saeed Anwar looks on
Photo © AFP
And when came their turn to bat, they were like frolicking and gambolling fish, which the childlike hands of Pakistan had no control over. They were so frisky that the Pakistanis just chased after them, never in serious contention of catching them.

For those who might be complaining about another 'thrill-less' final, there was some thrill, albeit after the completion of the match. A Pakistani fan hurled a full can (was probably not a soft drink) at the balcony and it hit Bevan, forcing the authorities to continue with the prize distribution ceremony indoors. It's unprecedented and really very sad! I feel sorry about the Aussie fans for not being able to witness their captain hoisting the coveted trophy to their cheers.

Despite today's debacle, I still think highly of the Pakistan team and especially of Waqar. In between the two bad performances on this short tour to England, both at Lord's, lie a string of successes of which some were really good ones.

All in all, it was a good tour for the team, a very healthy sign for things to come and to prepare for the next World Cup.

My only worry is about the media and fans back home, that how would they take this defeat?

I have come to understand our fans tend to have a very short memory; they remember only what happened at the end, forgetting - or forsaking - what happened immediately before that.

However, at least on this occasion, I want them to remember that the way their team outplayed these very Australians at Trent Bridge, just a few days ago, not to mention their three consecutive wins over the hosts before that.

Ed: Mudassar Nazar is a veteran of 76 tests and 122 ODIs. He is currently the chief coach of Pakistan's National and Regional Cricket Academies. In view of the overwhelming interest of users in CricInfo's articles, we have invited him to write for us.