October 18, 2013

Pakistan make mockery of ICC rankings by routing South Africa in Abu Dhabi


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A young cricket correspondent of a leading weekly newsmagazine had interviewed me soon after Pakistan’s defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe in a Test match barely a few months ago.

Maaz Ahmed of MAG Weekly was stunned to the extent that he switched on his tape-recorder to record my comments when I informed him that the result of Harare will have no impact whatsoever when Pakistan would be facing the top-ranked South Africa in their next assignment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

Obviously he was curious enough to know how it would be possible for Pakistan to challenge the mighty South Africa when they had struggled in both the Test matches against the lowly-rated Zimbabwe. 

The young journalist asked probing questions because he was finding it hard to swallow how in the world any team in obvious shambles will rise so dramatically in a few months to confront or even tame the toppers.

Like a trained professional he hadn’t argued, however, but the strong disbelief on his face indicated that he was not entirely satisfied with my assessment of the Pakistan-South Africa series becoming a close affair. 

What I had stated, on record, a couple of months ago, has now been proved correct in the very first Test match, from the very first day of the series to be precise. You can never write off Pakistan no matter whatever the circumstances. 

Don’t be misled by the ICC rankings. They do have their meaning and purpose but Pakistan can’t be covered by it. No matter where they may be placed or what kind of resources they may be possessing if the rub of the green starts going their way the word ‘logic’ takes a backseat. 

We have seen it happening in many parts of the world but it’s more frequent in the UAE where they have had every aspect to their liking. Be it the weather, the pitch or any other factor, controllable or uncontrollable.

The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has witnessed another huge upset. South Africa, having ruled the world, have been brought down to earth by Misbah-ul-Haq’s Pakistan team, which was forced to make changes following the tour of Zimbabwe. The unbeaten run of Graeme Smith’s men has ended after 15 Tests. 

Pakistan fielded a new pair of openers in Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood and both of them came good beyond expectations. They scored far too many runs in the first innings than their most ardent supporters would have imagined. 

Shan Masood had a dream debut against the most formidable bowling attack of the world, having the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel who can demolish any opposition within matter of minutes. He could have even got to a hundred in his maiden outing but it was not to be. 

Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar might also be considering international cricket much easier than domestic or even local cricket. He must be feeling at top of the world. That’s called charmed life.

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