Who I expected to win
Looking at West Indies' T20 exploits over the last two years, and Pakistan's alarming decline in the format, West Indies were the favorites. I'm not much of a predictor, and yet the absence of some big names in West Indies, coupled with Pakistan's new captain that people are raving about, I had a small hope of a Pakistani victory.
Pakistan. Obviously. And yet West Indies has forever been my second favorite team. So although I wanted Pakistan to win, I didn't want it to be dominant.
Imad Wasim virtually ended the game in the third over, taking three wickets in his first two overs. This included Evin Lewis, the guy that had smashed a 100 against India just two games back, and Samuels (the king of T20 finals). He later returned in the 10th over to end any remaining West Indian hopes, dismissing the bowler annihilators Kieron Pollard and Carlos Brathwaite in the same over.
WI 47-7; Imad Wasim 5-14; end of match.
One thing you'd have changed about the day
Oh what I wouldn't have given for Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell to have been a part of this match. West Indies looked seriously depleted without them. And these are some serious entertainers we are talking about. The experience of the match was poorer without them.
The face-off you relished
Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine against the young Pakistani batsmen. They had dismantled Pakistan in the past: in the WT20 2014 in Dhaka with combined figures of 6-26 in 8 overs. Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Laitf and Babar Azam did considerably better against them losing just a single wicket and scoring at seven an over, though admittedly with a considerably smaller target.
I was also desperate to see Umar Akmal bat again. He's one of my favorite players from Pakistan and I was happy to see him back. Sadly, he never got to bat.
Jugalbandi - a term that signifies a duet of musicians. Unlike the PSL final, I had brought my own 'Darbuka' (arabic drum) to the stadium, after much persuasion of the security guards who kindly let me go. As the second innings began, another guy showed up with a drum. We sat together and started playing Pakistani cultural drum beats which is how the festivities began in our stands. Pakistan was winning, people were happy, so a lot of people joined in the clapping and dancing.
Shot of the day
The cover drive from Babar Azam to Badree was beautiful to watch. The ball drifted in on leg stump, and Babar nonchalantly made room and caressed the ball effortlessly through the covers. It was a glimpse into the future of Babar, and the promise he holds for Pakistani batting. The crowd was suitably impressed.
It was a full house. I was sitting in the top tier which was overflowing. People were even sitting on the stairs next to the seats, waiting for people vacate their seats.
The crowd wasn't too energetic and I can't really blame them. With the kind of heat and suffocating humidity in the ground, it was a challenge just staying in to watch the match.
Pakistan had overwhelming support. Dispersed in the sea of green, you could spot some West Indian supporters as well. The thing about West Indies is, they find popular support wherever they go, and that includes the people supporting the other team.
In the absence of players like Gayle, Sammy and Shahid Afridi, the crowd favourite was Dwayne Bravo. Four rows below me was a group of enthusiastic Pakistani DJ Bravo supporters who included his name in many local slogans throughout the match.
The Dubai sauna
The size of the crowd was remarkable considering how stiflingly hot it was in the ground. It was a proper sweat fest. The surrounding dust and sand made the conditions unbearable. Many people were standing at the very back, which was the only place you could feel a little breeze and get much-needed respite. Most of us took turns to go stand there and dry our completely wet clothes while other friends guarded our seats.
The heat simply left no room for fancy dresses. I admire the courage of the few who had dared to paint their faces.
Dubai International Cricket Stadium probably has one of the more pointless PA programs. You can hardly hear anything said over it. Even the songs they played were somehow drowned out - you couldn't really understand much. The PA programs during the PSL were actually much better.
A disappointing experience overall, considering only one team showed up. West Indies have built a great T20 reputation and it was sad that I didn't get to see it at the stadium yesterday. Pakistan's intensity in the field was surprisingly high and fielded really well. West Indies' fielding, usually so good, perhaps mirrored their batting display. As is the trend with T20, one-sided games can be really one-sided - the end result becomes apparent so early in the game you don't really enjoy it.
Marks out of 10
5/10. And that's because Pakistan won. The one-sided nature of the match, absence of big names from the West Indies team, and the heat - not a great combination.