Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Spirited Waqar takes Pakistan to 16 run victory

As they say, when it rains, it pours. Pakistan having got into a winning frame of mind were unstoppable. In a clinical batting display followed by some inspired bowling the Pakistanis won the Coca Cola Cup 2000 by 16 runs.

When Shahid Afridi is at the crease he does not muck around. Either he is scoring runs or is back in the pavilion. Off late, he has not spent enough time at the wicket to make a decent score. However, the shiny batting track that the final was played on was perfect for Afridi to go for his shots. With no lateral movement to speak of, Afridi launched himself into drives with vigour not commonly displayed.

Though the South Africans were as sharp in the field as ever, there was little they could do as the ball raced through the off side with regularity. When he flicked the ball past mid wicket to bring up his fifty off just 46 balls, his joy was obvious for all to see.

The first to go was Shahid Afridi, attempting to hit Lance Klusener back over his head for six. The ball went straight up in the air and Kallis chased after it. Running backwards, Kallis threw himself full length at the end of running a fair few yards and pulled off what was easily the best catch of the tournament. Afridi had made 52.

Imran Nazir went down the wicket too early to a Derek Crookes off spinner and was beaten by the line of the delivery. Seeing him come down the wicket Crookes sent the ball down the leg side. Mark Boucher whipped the bails off before Imran Nazir could make it back and all of a sudden Pakistan had lost both its openers. Imran Nazir's 69 laid the foundation for a good Pakistan score.

Inzamam and Youhana consolidated the Pakistan innings with some sensible batting. The brilliant start that they were given by Imran Nazir and Shaid Afridi meant the Pakistanis could take it easy for a period of time.

Inzamam restricted himself to pushing the ball into the gaps and picking singles while Youhana took the initiative. Stroking the ball well, Youhana picked up the occasional boundary to add to his score. Nantie Hayward almost lost his head evading a straight drive by Inzamam. The ball was struck so fiercely that he had to dive out of the way very quickly in his follow through.

Inzamam got to his fifty in steady fashion. However, in an attempt to boost the scoring rate, Inzamam was clean bowled by Shaun Pollock. Coming late in the innings, the loss of his wicket was not such a blow to the Pakistan charge.

Razzaq and Wasim Akram heaved a few lusty blows towards the end and took Pakistan to 263/6 off their allotted 50 overs. Lance Klusener with 2/27 off his 10 overs was easily the pick of the bowlers.

The tried and tested opening pair of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis began brilliantly for the Pakistanis. Akram used all the variations in his armoury and troubled the South African batsmen. Herschelle Gibbs has enjoyed some good form in the recent times and his confidence was up. Stroking the ball firmly, Gibbs brought up the first boundary of the innings driving Waqar on the up through the off side.

Akram finally got his man when Gibbs played loosely at a delivery that left him. The ball flew off the edge to the slips where Inzamam's safe hands clasped the ball quickly.

Jacques Kallis, the man whose contribution was crucial in South Africa's path to the final, was beaten all ends up by Mohammed Akram. In his very first over, Mohammed Akram got the ball to bounce a little more than the batsman expected. Kallis was late on the shot, the ball slid off the face to Moin Khan who snapped the catch up.

The South Africans had no choice but to consolidate after they had lost two early wickets. The going was predictably slow. Captain Hansie Cronje and new comer Neil McKenzie did not attempt to do anything fancy. In the face of some disciplined Pakistani bowling they nudged the ball into the gaps and picked up ones and twos.

Hansie Cronje's captain's knock came to an end when he attempted one big shot too many against Pakistani off spinner. Arshad Khan gave the ball good loop, tempting the South African captain to go for his shots. After hitting one clean six over mid wicket, Cronje attempted to repeat the stroke with bad results. The ball stopped on Cronje and he went through with the stroke anyway. The ball headed straight towards the fielder mid wicket. Younis Khan took his time and completed the catch comfortably. Cronje's innings of 79 in 73 balls ended just when things were going well for the South Africans.

Neil McKenzie who had struggled on for seemingly endless amounts of time, misread an arm ball from Arshad Khan and presented Mohammed Akram with a catch at short cover. His 58 runs took all of 107 balls.

Waqar Younis returned at the end of the innings to destroy all South Africa's hopes. While Mark Boucher fought spectacularly at one end, the wickets tumbled around him and South Africa's hopes diminished with every passing over.

In successive deliveries Waqar had Nicky Boje caught behind and Lance Klusener clean bowled. South Africa hoped for a lot from Klusener. In the past there have been many occasions when the aggressive all rounder has been called upon to hit South Africa out of a hole. On this occasion Klusener was dealt with swiftly by Waqar. Coming around the wicket to the left hander, Waqar let slip a quick delivery that came in with the arm and pegged the off stump back.

After that it was simply too much of an uphill task for the South Africans. Mark Boucher played a gem of an innings, picking up crucial boundaries. Improvising well, Boucher used the width of the crease superbly, making room for himself and smashing the ball through the on side with regularity. However, Waqar got sweet revenge for all the times he was hit away by Boucher when he bowled the South African stumper with the last ball of his spell.

The match was all over at that stage. Abdur Razzaq bowled a well directed yorker to clean up Nantie Hayward and Pakistan had won the Coca Cola Cup 2000 by 16 runs.