Karachi Test, Stumps, Day 1
Ever heard of Murphy’s Laws? “If things must go wrong, they must all go wrong at the same time and the worst possible time” one of them asserts cynically. When we lost Inzi, then the toss, then three wickets in three in the first over, and six before we’d reach forty, you’d be brave not to have believed them. Finding hope now was like finding a needle from a hay stack. But hope is one of the great miracles of mankind, and of the whole human psychology, if it fades quickly; it’s gained almost twice as quickly too. By the time Akmal and Razzaq had batted out the incredible first session, already having added a fifty partnership, some of it had already started blossoming.
And now, as I write, after the day
having concluded, I can reflect on why it’s so important never to give up. The way Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Razzaq batted, it was a lesson, a lesson to me on why one shouldn’t pay any attention to Murphy’s Laws, and to our top order on how you should not let batting on feather bed wickets spoil your habits. I always think, that when you have a pitch this green, a pitch that’s been the focus of so much discussion and speculation leading into the match, that more often then not its not the pitch but the thoughts going on in a batsman’s mind about the pitch that gets people out.
Add to that, the fact the Pakistani batsmen were coming off batting on five consecutive feathers bed (2 against India, 3 against England) and the dangers of preoccupation were fully exposed. Most of our players got out being caught in no man’s land, neither quite forward nor back (Younis Khan), or not fully forward enough (Salman Butt, Abdul Razzaq), others offered some poor shots to very good deliveries (Yousuf, Afridi), one offered a poor shot to a poor delivery (Farhat), one misjudged the length altogether and offered not shot at all (Iqbal), one didn’t know how to bat (Asif), one threw away their wicket in search of quick runs (Shoaib) and only one (Kamran Akmal) was genuinely deceived (by an off cutter that he didn’t quite pick quickly enough).
It was a mixture of some very good bowling, some good bowling, some poor batting and some very poor batting, but what pleased everyone, was that, above all, it was a contest, a genuine battle between bat and ball, one that everyone was so looking forward to all this while. The coating of grass on the pitch is still fairly green, and if the conditions remain overcast tomorrow, it might not be easy going for the batsmen, at least for a while, to begin with, in the early part of tomorrow’s first session. But batting is progressively going to get easier, especially as the kookaburra balls loses its shine and hardness.
Which is exactly why one must not read too much into the 14 wickets fell that fell today for 328 runs, on face value this sole stat would make you think the pitch had demons in it, but what it had, in reality, was half an inch of live grass, and some moisture that eased out at the day passed. That it was an overcast day, helped the bowlers even more, and that some Pakistani batsmen don’t quite have the right techniques to deal with such scenarios also helped. But it wasn’t by any means an unplayable surface.
Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Razzaq showed us what can be achieved with a clear mind, positive thinking and by applying simple common sense. At times when they batted, they looked in total command. If you ignore the missed stumping chance Kamran offered off Kumble, by my reckoning he only played and missed only one other ball. That Razzaq and Shoaib, arguably the two in our line up with the worst batting techniques, were able to give him company and make 45 a piece, is enough evidence that we cannot take things for granted.
Even though India have lost 4 wickets in reply, a response that should drift the day’s honors slightly more towards Pakistan, there is no reason why the remaining Indian batsmen cannot repeat what Akmal, Akhtar and Razzaq did. This is going to be the kind of test, where it will only take one good partnership, or two at most, or alternatively one or one and half good sessions with the ball, to decide which team is ahead. It’s going to be really close.Cross posted on Sundries