Mudassar NazarPhoto CricInfo
Well, well: all my prayers went wasted as another professional bowling, fielding and batting, 'Aussie style' display consumed England. Their morale, if it had been down at all, must now be peaked, and that's not a very good sign for Pakistan in the final.
England has nothing to complain about after yet another jaded showing in almost all departments of the game.
I remember well, TV commentators moaning over the loss of so many tosses after Pakistan had put them into bat at Headingley. They were desperately trying to attribute this string of losses to losing the toss. Now I ask, what did England gain after winning the toss today?
Surely, all those who reckon the toss as one of the major factors deciding the fate of an ODI, must know that while toss is important, it's definitely not the deciding factor. If you have any doubts, ask Steve Waugh, or for that matter any other captain - former or contemporary - and he will tell you, all that's important for winning a game is an unflinching belief in the team's abilities. And didn't Steve say something along those lines during his TV interview following the toss today?
Sadly for England, this very virtue, this belief in abilities, which once used to be their hallmark, has vanished all of a sudden. This is what they so desperately need, more than anything else, to come back to their winning ways and the sooner they get over their tentativeness the better.
I've just heard England management has arranged for a tour of Zimbabwe for a five-match one-day series in October. I think this too is not too wise a decision, considering Zimbabwe's standing in cricket. It would've been better if England had chosen a bit tougher opposition like Australia, South Africa or even Pakistan to play these games. Playing a weak team is not likely to help them out of the doldrums.
In any case I wish them good luck in future ventures, including the Ashes.
Coming back to the match, I must say Gilchrist and Ponting were simply brilliant and made mockery of an otherwise formidable English attack. If they carry over this form to Lord's, things may well be hard for Pakistan in the final.
Both of them are stroke players who don't like being bogged down for too long. So it won't be a bad idea if our bowlers bowl tightly to them, on or about off stump. This may frustrate them from natural stroke-play and perhaps force a mistake or two.
Saqlain could also prove very handy considering their innate inability to cope with off spinners. Above all, it's Wasim who still has to show his class on this tour, and I for one, am very optimistic looking forward to his performance in the final. After all, he has more than an apt opportunity to avenge the WC'99 final loss at the same venue.
All said and done, it's Waqar's broad shoulders on which almost everything rests. The kind of touch he's in at the moment, he might have something up his sleeve to tame these ferocious Aussies.
Ed: Mudassar Nazar is a veteran of 76 tests and 122 ODIs. He is currently the chief coach of Pakistan's National and Regional Cricket Academies. In view of the overwhelming interest of users in CricInfo's articles, we have invited him to write for us.