Pakistan Handed An Early Christmas Gift
By Orin Davidson
Christmas seems to be coming early for the few Christians who love
cricket in Pakistan.
In getting West Indies as their first opponent in the aftermath
of the worst period of their cricket existence, Pakistan landed
an appropriate gift.
West Indies’ contrast in ability between Test cricket and
Limited Overs contests these days, are akin to Shaquille O’Neal’s
liability and strength in free throwing and post-up prowess in the
The Caribbean team can be superb in the shorter form of the game
but woeful in the more established longer version.
Their batting capitulation in both the first and second innings
in Lahore was the core of the gift and their loose bowling provided
Pakistan accepted gleefully to take a commanding 1-0 lead in the
three-Test series and the entire country wiped its tears dry after
the recent drugs and ball tampering scandals almost brought it to
West Indies have not won a Test match of consequence overseas in
more than six years and although they are a force to reckon with
in the One-Dayers, Test competition is their Achilles heel.
Their capitulation by nine wickets inside four days on Tuesday was
the medicine Pakistan needed to exhale after their two best bowlers
were banned for illegal drug use after Umpire Darryl Hair humiliated
the nation by charging the team for ball tampering and defaulted
them the third Test against England this summer.
And it seems the man who replaced the now sacked Hair was intent
on providing additional therapy for Pakistan’s wounds with
another disgraceful display of officiating.
On his return to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC)
elite panel from a sacking a few years back, Asoka Da Silva proved
to the world ruling body he deserves no better than to languish
in Sri Lanka’s backwater leagues.
Not taking anything away from Pakistan’s workmanlike effort
led by the man previously known as Yousuf Yohanna, now Mohammed
Yousuf and Umar Gul, Da Silva aided and abetted their victory in
Lahore with perverse decision- making that saw all except one of
the mistakes going against the tourists.
Among Da Silva’s gaffs was a flawed LBW decision in favor
of Brian Lara to which the Sri Lanka seeming intent on making up
unendingly in return for the home team.
Da Silva wrongly sent packing Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and
Dinesh Ramdin while shockingly ruling centurion Yousuf not out when
every other umpire would’ve sought the third official’s
help for a stumping decision that clearly would’ve cut the
Pakistani’s 192-run innings in half.
Yousuf went on to accumulate 90-odd more runs to his innings which
was the foundation that yielded the home team’s match winning
279-run first innings lead.
Da Silva is someone clearly incapable of handling the pressure of
Test competition and his promotion back at the top left the ICC’s
face splattered with egg.
It is astounding no better umpire throughout the world cricket fraternity
could’ve been found instead of the ICC trying to recycle a
Minus DaSilva’s mess-up, West Indies could not expect themselves
to win with such poor batting. Rather the match would’ve been
extended into the fifth day because Pakistan was superior in all
departments except fielding.
Beginning with captain Lara’s flawed decision to bat first
on a juicy wicket which backfired amidst his fears of having to
face Pakistan’s spinners last on a broken pitch, that proved
Lara did not profit much on his Da Silva let-off at zero, going
on to make 61 in West Indies pathetic first innings effort of 206.
It was obvious he made a serious attempt to lead by example in the
second knock when notching his 33rd century, but he threw it all
away by attempting to sweep, instead of playing straight on the
fourth day when survival was paramount. Likewise Chanderpaul literally
surrendered a fine 81 with a wild shot when runs were immaterial,
Sarwan obviously is experiencing a rough patch which began in the
Champions Trophy, but Da Silva killed any chance of him starting
a rehabilitation in the batsman’s second innings.
Dwyane Bravo was a mess in the entire game and it will be interesting
to observe coach Bennett King’s effort to re-build his shattered
Disappointing is an apt description for Darren Ganga’s return
to the team as he obviously has not strengthened his mental toughness
which contrasts starkly with that of the ousted Runako Morton.
The way this team went down in the final minutes on Day Four was
indicative of a side scarred by the surrender syndrome.
Lara and Chanderpaul fought magnificently for almost half the day
Thursday but soon after the former substituted discretion for valor,
the others thought it best to throw in the towel.
Apart from Chanderpaul, Dave Mohamed who is obviously a talented
all-round player also never considered the honor of batting out
the innings. He seemed to prefer a free day Wednesday instead by
continuing the recklessness that suddenly overcame the team at a
Pakistan seemed hungrier for victory with their focused reply to
West Indies first innings.
Even when their talisman batsman Inzamam Ul-Haq failed the others
like Kamran Akhmal, Mohamed Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, never for once
packed it in.
They were brave enough to reap the good fortune they got in the
West Indies have a lot to learn in that regard.
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