December 14, 2002

Pakistan emerge Blind World Cup champions at Chennai

Staff Reporter

For a team that was initially doubtful to even make it to the Blind World Cup in Chennai, Pakistan have done remarkably well, batting and bowling consistently throughout the tournament and beating out title-holders - and gritty ones at that - South Africa in the final to emerge champions.

Winning the toss, Pakistan took a gamble and ask South Africa to bat at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Throughout the tournament, teams batting first have tended to rack up massive scores, but that did not happen on this occasion.

Once the in-form batsman, skipper Rory Field, was dismissed at the top of the order, South Africa lost direction and at one stage were 86 for five. But the 96 runs added for the sixth wicket by NA Meyer and Riann Liebenberg proved a stabilising influence, and a quickfire 34 off as many balls from PA Le Roux got South Africa to a competitive total of 255 for eight in their 40 overs.

Pakistan too got off to a mediocre start, with the first three batsmen not being able to cross 15. But Mohammad Ashraf Bhatti, who has been in splendid nick throughout the World Cup, took it upon himself to guide his side to a win, despite the wickets falling around him.

Bhatti ended on 87 not out off 96 balls, striking five fours in his responsible knock. He was accompanied for some time by skipper Abdul Razzaq, who made 30. Pakistan finally ended up cruising home by five wickets in 37.2 overs, and Bhatti deservedly got the Man of the Match award for his knock.