MCC v Pakistan, Twenty20, Lord's June 27, 2010

Umar, fast bowlers seal tight win


Pakistan 165 for 5 (Umar 51, Harris 3-26) beat MCC 159 for 5 (Blizzard 73, Shoaib 2-19) by six runs

Umar Akmal's aggressive half century, combined with disciplined bowling efforts from Shoaib Akhtar and Saeed Ajmal, helped the Pakistanis to start their English summer with a six-run victory over MCC at Lord's on Sunday. Chasing a challenging target Aiden Blizzard kept MCC's hopes alive till the final over of the match. He put on 94 with Brian Lara - who managed a 32-ball 37 on his return to competitive cricket - but his sparkling 73 went in vain in the absence of any able support after Lara departed.

On a sun-drenched afternoon, when the whole of England watched in horror as the national football team fell apart against Germany in Bloemfontein, the Pakistanis started on a bright note with their opening pair of Shahzaib Hasan and Salman Butt rushing off the blocks against the odd new ball pair of Chaminda Vaas and Hamid Hassan of Afghanistan. Shahzaib was quick to pounce on the inexperience of his namesake as he repeatedly charged the Afghanistan quick to pick up easy runs.

The signs looked ominous for the hosts when the Pakistanis passed fifty in just the fifth over. Just then Shahzaib, in a rush-of-the-blood moment went to clear the leg-side boundary, but instead mistimed a pull which landed safely in the hands of Vaas behind square.

When Kamran Akmal and Butt fell in quick succession, the Pakistanis appeared to be in a spot of bother. But Umar has been one of Pakistan's best - if not the best - batsman in the last year and he unleashed his range of strokes while displaying a knack for smartly finding the gaps. Though the trio of Mohammad Nabi, Glenn Querl and Chris Harris managed to keep a tight leash on the Pakistanis, Umar remained patient and picked off any bad balls that came his way.

With the old warhorses Brian Lara and Sourav Ganguly in the batting ranks the target, though stiff, was not out of reach. Though Lara was playing his first match in nearly three years, he never showed any rust as his feet moved in line of the delivery with minimal fuss, and he played his strokes in his inimitable fashion. The raging cuts, the caressed late-cuts and steers, and the strong pull-shots all came stumbling out of the storeroom, as Lara overtook Blizzard, who couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift than standing and admiring the brilliance of the genius.

Lara had started off with a fluent cut against a wide delivery from Umar Gul, who was still warming up in his first over. He followed it with another boundary, as he walked across and pulled over midwicket. At the other end Blizzard was stealing singles and twos and charging the likes of Afridi, who he hit for a handsome six over widish long-on (his second).

Their alliance was steadily loosening the visitors' grip and to the delight of the 4000-strong crowd Gul bounced back with an inswinging yorker that beat Lara's high backlift before going on to splay the stumps. A year ago Gul was the best Twenty20 bowler in the world and he showed why he is rated so highly when he repeated the same delivery against Ganguly off the first ball off his next over.

The former Indian captain had already survived a close lbw appeal against Ajmal in the previous over. Shahid Afridi, like a predator, jumped on the nervous Ganguly, ribbing him with some sly remarks.

Ganguly was annoyed and shot back at his counterpart, asking him to stay away. Never shy to engage in mid-pitch banter, Afridi started walking towards Ganguly as the crowd started screaming excitedly. But Ganguly was not interested in any further conversation.

Blizzard maintained his calm and when 18 were needed in the final over it looked possible as he hit Mohammad Aamer over long-off for a six. But Aamer improved his length, pitching the ball much fuller to beat Blizzard's swing and end MCC's hopes.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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  • Dummy4 on July 2, 2010, 5:49 GMT

    As the first ever starting T20 win will give a big boost to a new mixed team of youth & experienced, All should realize the circumstances of cricket in Pak, We are not playing at home,Home advantage is the biggest tool for win, Home crowd, Home pitches, This is all talents which is surviving hopes for Pak cricket team, ZINDABAD PAK CRICKET TEAM,

  • Shan on July 1, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    @For All Indians Either Pakistan won in Sharja or Mumbai Does not matter we won and professional never gave excuse of ground, Indians should realized that PAK with 10% of total Indian Population And Pakistan winning ration so high if compare with India. @Andyblocke I think you are totally illiterate from Cricket you only remember indina winning & sehawag inning Dont forget Saeed Anwar 194 against Indian in front of all indian crowd we beat you in 2005 in ODI and in testin India& 2006 test in karachi we kick out you in ICC Champ 2009 we kick out you in tri series AUS 1999 etc, in Present india Kick out by WI, AUS t20 SriLanka, ZIM(very shame) two matches. we beat AUS many times in last 15 years just for your info 1999 in tri series WC 1999 , T20 2009 WC, in Dubai last year etc.. PLZ Indians We know you are fan of Cricket but should realize the facts and accept PAK much better team then India in past as well as in present. I see PAK in WC 2011 Final match lets wait..

  • Dummy4 on July 1, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    i think its time 4 kami 2 realise importance of catches. on many occasions he dropped simple catches. he has 2 b like Mark Boucher who iz in 30s bt still doing gd job 4 Proteas. i dnt knw whats wrong wid afridi...... he has 2 realize d imp of gd fielding by his boys. just look 8 d last few matches of pakis..... u can eaisily notice dat it was fielsding (d reason of defeat. which starts 4rm NZ & still paki facing d same prblm. IJaz Ahmed charging 3.5 lakhs/month bt v can't c any improvement in fielding. if pakis don't realize dis fact then off-course they can't b abble 2 win against Aussies 7 eng.

  • Jibran on June 29, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    @ Andyblocker The fact that you are forced to pick and point India's wins against Pakistan shows how poor India have been against Pakistan.. Be it neutral, home, away or overall Pakistan have a much much higher win percentage record than India, something like 60/40...

  • arslan on June 29, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    @kharticfromchennai we don't have place to play even then we kick your ass....hahaha.....great

  • karthik on June 29, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    @f, true that 1.5 billion cannot win more matches, but its a honour that pakistan a country of 340,403 square miles of area cannot find the SAFE 22 yards to play cricket. You play your HOME matches AWAY from home.....great.

  • a blocker on June 28, 2010, 22:49 GMT

    @ all pakistani supporters- guys wat records....u won most of the matches in sharjah, and talking about wounds given 2 u in sports remember u being eliminated by india in 96 world cup with aamir sohail heads down and leaving. remember 2003 world cup, again being knocked out with so called drugged rawalpindi exp derailed. 309 of sehwag in multan or the 2 one day series loss of ur in ur own home3-2 and 4-1. T20 world cup final is also fresh as well as in england we defeated u in the warm up match by 10 wkts.And also recently being knocked out in asia cup with your shoaib aktar again put to sword by bhajji. See we now dont get any pleasure playing you. wasim akram says india is far ahead of what pakistan team is.And by the way more interest is genetaed playing with Aus or SA. so keep ur records to you and start winning. A ricky ponting never minds playing a pakistan team which hasnt won against australia for 15 years, but fears india which has a better win ratio against them. Records huh

  • Shan on June 28, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    @Faisal Totally agree with you Shahzaib really not performing well I dont know why he is taking pressure he have full support from captain and coach He should play positive and natural game, 2011 world Cup is coming soon and all team making their best combination, Pakistan have a good middle order with Strong Umer Akam,afridi, kamran and Malik I think they only need one solid player with Salman butt who can handle the pressure in opening b/c PAK can not depend on salman butt he is not a consistent player and dont perform in pressure and World Cup means pressure Matches, Pak this time really have a good chance in Coming WC with the current team(best middle order and strong bowling combination)if they get one good opener in the team before WC. @Navi You are Joker See the statistic of PAk vs India then pass the comments Understand

  • khurram on June 28, 2010, 16:04 GMT

    i think it was out n out satisfied performance frm pakistanis. those who r supporting ganguly must realised now those old horses are nothing worth they even failed to win any major tournament during their tenure. i would advise instead of backing up old horses always support real time heroes like afridi

  • Wanderer on June 28, 2010, 11:36 GMT

    @Navi Sran: And what exactly is the "whole of India" going to do to Afridi? Keep your threats to yourself, they're basless and backed up by nobody. And if you took care to remember Ganguly's career he wasn't shy of dishing out some sledging himself. If you can't take it, don't dish it out.

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