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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Has Pakistan announced itself on the big stage?

When Babar Azam, the green’s skipper took the field for the coin toss, standing right next to Virat Kohli in the middle of the ‘Ring of Fire’, there was a hint of calmness.

After winning the toss, Babar made a very brave decision of bowling first considering the fierce Indian batting line-up. And it turned out to be the perfect decision.

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The talk of the town was how Imad Wasim would open the bowling and try to put the squeeze on, but Shaheen came out holding the ball to start the proceedings for Pakistan. The 6 foot 5’ steaming in with no 10 on his back, he was oozing class.

Shaheen took the scalp of Rohit Sharma with an inswinging yorker in the very first over to put Pakistan in a position of strength. Afridi didn’t wait for the umpire to raise his finger and ran straight to the square leg to celebrate in the iconic Afridi style, a celebration Pakistani fans have been used to in the past 20 years when a certain Shahid Afridi used to do it.

Shaheen did not stop here. In his second over, he bowled a Wasim Akram-esque inswinger and bamboozled KL Rahul’s stumps, who looked clueless to the magical delivery.

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Soon after, Hassan Ali came in on the act and sent Suryakumar Yadav back to the pavilion.

Pakistani bowlers did not let India off the hook and bowled the right length to keep the pressure on. Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli tried to stabilise the sinking ship and batted well in the middle overs before Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi respectively sent the pair back to the pavilion.

India finished the innings with 151-7 at the end of their allotted 20 overs.

Muhammad Rizwan and Babar Azam took to the field to chase down the total posted by India.

Unlike past encounters, the men in green looked calm and composed. Rizwan eased the pressure off by hitting a boundary and a six in the first over. As the innings progressed Pakistan had a strong hold of the game and never looked in doubt. The spectators were treated to Babar Azam’s classical cover drives and Rizwan’s cheeky flicks. Pakistani batters never looked hurried and executed the plan perfectly.

The total was chased down in the 18th over with 10 wickets in hand.

It was a sheer show of domination by the men in green. From the get go to the last bowl which was bowled in the encounter, Pakistan stayed on top.

According to Cricinfo’s smart stats, Afridi’s 3 wickets were worth 4.67 wickets. This stellar performance earned him the player of the match award.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that this performance has been the team’s most composed one.

The team known for its unpredictability were never unpredictable for a single moment in the game. They did not make the fans nervous nor did they make a mess of anything on the field. The performance was picture perfect to say the least.

Is this the beginning of a new journey? Can we finally depend on our batting line-up? Has Babar taken the throne?

Well, it’s just the start. We surely should celebrate but not get off track as Babar Azam said in his post-match team talk.

Whole nation is rooting for the success of men in green. Boys go and conquer the world. Your time is now.



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