June 19, 2001

Pakistan needs to earn a psychological advantage

Imtiaz Sipra

Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Much that one believes, two wrongs do not make a right, yet one feels that a wrong at times has to be taken into account due extenuating circumstances. Conceded, the pitch invasions at Edgbaston and Headingley were unwarranted, yet the one at Headingley was forced on the followers of Pakistan cricket due an erroneous scoreboard. That has to be kept in mind when censuring the guilty and one would be happy if that does not happen again - here in the ongoing triangular series and on any other cricket stadium in the world.

Waqar Younis
A man can fly after taking 7 wickets in a One Day International - Waqar Younis at Leeds
Photo © CricInfo
One feels such invasion should not have surprised the local sport administrators, especially those manning and organising matches. One need only recall soccer hooliganism to know what charged up emotions can do and cause. Fortunately, our followers only invade and not run amok like English soccer fans.

The established English daily, `The Times', carried the news of Leeds invasion on its front page, though mildly worded. Other papers took their knives out and denigrated the unwanted behaviour in no uncertain words and rightly so. Yet, all conveniently ignored happening on another sporting arena, consigning it to inside pages, The Times reported it on page 15.

The incident relates to AS Roma footballers being 'stripped naked' by their followers during a pitch invasion minutes before the match was completed. Most of the footballers were robbed of their shirts, shorts, even boots and socks. It was a brutal invasion, a BIZARRE almost brutal souvenir hunt. And yet it merely made page 15!

Naturally, one should be looking forward to stall these invasions rather than highlighting the 'unruly mob'. And it can be eliminated only if efforts are coordinated and directed towards educating followers of the spirit of the game. 'It is not cricket' - these invasions and should not happen.

Trescothick bowled first ball
Photo © CricInfo
All other infringements aside, the day and the match, belonged to Waqar Younis, written off by most at the start of the series. Yes, it was a good toss to win, more so amid Headingley's peculiar atmospherics. If at Lord's he was line and length, at Headingley he was an executioner. What an act it was. Trescothick bowled first ball, cleaned up by a yorker that left him groping and the rest through an extended slip cordon that at one point had five fielders. Seven could have been eight had Kitchen been 'eagle-eyed' and who knows it would have been nine had that happened.

And this is how it all happened - 0.1 overs, Trescothick; 6.1 overs, Knight; 10.3 overs, Vaughan; 13.0 overs, Owais Shah; 14.1 overs, Collingwood; 16.4 overs, Stewart; 18.4 overs, Cork. And at 58 for 7, we saw Waqar Younis complete his quota of 10-0-36-7, the first bowler in ODI to take the first seven wickets. His analysis included one no-ball, one wide and only one boundary. Waqar took wickets in his 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th over. Watching him do it, one thought 1992 was a year ago. Waqar Younis ran spiritedly, bowled spiritedly and shone ever brightly. If in 1992 England were 'waqarred' here in Headingley they were 'waqared-in' and Waqar showed age is no barrier if one is fit, has rhythm and strides well.

Others also caught the eye, notably Fazl-e-Akbar, a forced induction due non-availability of Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram. He was a perfect foil for Waqar, for he bowled a nagging length, pitching up and made full use of the conditions.

Abdur Razzaq
Abdur Razzaq drives bowler Ben Hollioake through mid off
Photo © CricInfo
In batting, Yousuf Youhana was his usual dour self and Abdur Razzaq, yet again, endorsed his all-round potential. Sadly, all was not rosy. Saeed Anwar struggled, as did Shahid Afridi and disappointing was Saqlain Mushtaq's bowling. As was Youhana, blundering, butter-fingered fielding.

The win, however, was emphatic and morale boosting and timely too with a dress rehearsal coming up against Australia at Trent Bridge on Tuesday before the curtain comes down on the series in the final at Lord's on June 23rd.

A win here certainly will help and somehow lessen the psychological advantage the Aussies hold over Pakistan. But for that to happen runs have to be put on board and that can only happen if Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi can get their act together.