There is an uncertainty in everything that Pakistan does. There are days when the team would easily chase down the highest total in the World Cup. And then there are days like today. Losing 8 for 39. Pakistan are often found to drastically change the momentum from one extreme to another. From a position of strength, a small good or bad passage of play quickly swings the favor in the other team’s favor. In most of the India-Pakistan clashes, it has been the same. Pakistan have lost all their matches due to a short span of Harakiri. They kept pressing the panic button undoing all the hard work done previously. Today was no different.

Pakistan had weathered a tough spell from Jadeja and Kuldeep. The 2 left-arm spinners were making it tough for Babar and Rizwan to rotate the strike. Yet they were rock solid and managed to keep the run rate around 5. The tough period was smartly negotiated. Now it was time to put the pressure back on India. Pakistan were looking all set for a huge first innings score. Desperate for a wicket, Rohit brought in Mohammad Siraj. Pakistan attacked Siraj in his first over. But the character that Siraj has got, he would never back off. Babar got clean bowled by Siraj trying to steer the ball towards the third man for a single. The 82 runs promising partnership was broken. And yet again, Pakistan did a Pakistan. From a solid position of 155-2, Pakistan were bundled out for mere 191. Things that only the Pakistan team is capable of. Soon after the skipper’s wicket, the floodgates opened. Kuldeep who was keeping it tight from ball one, soon got rewards for his consistent lines. He trapped Shakeel plumb in front and soon bowled Iftikhar around his legs in one over to quickly swing the pendulum in India’s favor. All hopes were on Pakistan’s last match hero Mohammad Rizwan. Insanely accurate Bumrah was brought back into the attack to kill the batting. 

Bumrah masterclass 

And he did so with grace. Bumrah bowled a deceptive off-cutter into the pitch that completely deceived a well set Rizwan who was one short of his half century. It was a ball for ages, which remind me of Zaheer Khan’s similar delivery to dismiss Mike Hussey at the same venue in the 2011 World Cup Quarterfinal. Once India got the opening, they never looked back. Bumrah, who got the ball to reverse swing cleaned up Shadab Khan with a peach of a delivery. Hitting the top of off with the ball swinging outwards from the middle and off stump. Both the wickets displayed the class of Bumrah, the things that only Bumrah can do on Indian pitches. 

Later, Hardik scalped Mohammad Nawaz who was caught at mid on trying to release the pressure and get the scoreboard moving. Jadeja took the last 2 wickets. The chase was just a mere formality. All the hopes were broken during the collapse. 

Once the Babar-Rizwan partnership which was looking promissing to take Pakistan to a safe total was broken, it was a meek surrender by other Pakistani batters. It has always been that way. They have not been able to capitalize on the key moments collapsing like a pack of cards. But never make the mistake of counting them out. As the English commentator Nasser Hussain perfectly described Pakistan Cricket: “Pakistan cricket at its best: one minute down, next minute up.”

It’s the unpredictability that makes Pakistan what they are. Pakistan Cricket has always been more about ’emotions and momentum’ rather than ‘process and planning’. Next match, they will start afresh as if nothing has happened and build on further in the tournament. But if they are to win the World Cup, they cannot offer any more ‘few minutes of bad cricket’ moments in the tournament. 

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