Friday, January 26, 2007

Younis and Akmal

I bow to these two Pakistani gentlemen. The climax of the 2nd Test in the ongoing RSA-v-Pak series saw two contrasting characters clinching the final hours of a tense game to keep the series alive for Pakistan.

One is a flamboyant skipper-in-the-making who grows in stature with every passing series, a cheerful yet tough go-getter ready to walk his ‘we will do better than India’ talk all by himself.

The other, Kamran Akmal, is a shy and silent man who, in the early months of each of the past two years, has made sure we listen to the willowy roar of his bat in a keenly fought Test series when we were least expecting it. He scored some unforgettable, invaluable runs against India at Karachi last year and he does it again at Port Elizabeth in 2007.

Inzamam, sure, had ensured through his indescribably cool batting in the first innings that their task was a lot less tough than it could have been. Few people besides the Multan Maahir expected Pakistan to take such a big lead when they had lost six first-innings wickets and for that I bow to Inzy a thousand times. [That is a respectable figure for bows, you will appreciate; nearly as many as reserved for Mohammad Asif who is easily the best fast / fast-medium bowling package in world cricket today. ]

But tough it still was for the subjects of this post to come aboard in the midst of a fourth innings storm at ninety something for 5 with a hundred odd runs still to get, steady the ship first and then steer it to safety.

Make no mistake; Younis Khan and Kamran Akmal did it when their team was well on its way down from a position of some supremacy. Even the present South African bowling attack is more than a handful in their backyard and a sub continental tail, in those conditions, often amounts to little without a top order batsman making it wag.

The two batsmen (Akmal may average moderately with the bat but I refuse to refer to a batsman of his ability as anything but a ‘batsman’) chose to be the last men standing between the aggressive Africans and an easy series win ahead of the World Cup. Eventually the pair scripted an unbeaten comeback partnership in style to level the series and set up a live 3rd Test.

From a regional supremacy point of view, together they have ensured that the crown of ‘best team in the sub continent’ stays with them for now, safe from the valiant snatching attempts of the Lankan tigers.

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