Pakistan's super shock
Who saw that coming on day 2 of the Super Eights?
I had pencilled in victories for both South Africa and India but now both teams face the shotgun finish that often confronts sides that stumble at the first hurdle of mid-tournament qualification. 'Must-win' games now await both countries against teams that have stolen momentum and are now running solidly with it.
Pakistan's victory was particularly stunning. They were basically dead and buried and South Africa were very close to closing the deal. Then in walked a long-levered, heavy-bat wielding, belligerent Umar Gul.
The 17th over is always a crucial juncture in this format. In this case it was a mere seven balls that conceded a total of twenty runs and suddenly the game had twisted first and then stuck. Pakistan had got out of jail and banked two crucial points that suddenly propelled them to prime positioning in Group 2.
Upon closer inspection of statistical history of T20 Internationals, it is clear that Pakistan were victorious from a high odds position early in their innings. The collected data shows that in all 278 internationals that have been played to date, any team that loses three wickets inside their first six overs of batting will struggle big time. In fact only 26% proceed to victory from that position, such is the challenge of resurrecting the innings, and that statistic does not even take into consideration the added scoreboard pressure that comes with batting second.
Pakistan lost their third wicket at the end of the fourth over, and further complicated matters by losing their fourth wicket one ball into the sixth over. That is generally game over. No-one, however, told Pakistan and that is why 'the entertainers' are such an exciting outfit.
There is no doubt they were handed a huge gap by poor death bowling coupled with a batsman with nothing to lose who launched a unique cameo performance. The bowling length from most of the South Africans was poor. Length balls promptly disappeared from the playing arena and the ability to accurately deliver yorkers vanished. The skipper also got caught in the crosshairs and omitted to utilise the clinical and now vastly experienced Johan Botha.
AB said the day before the game that to be the best you need to beat the best. Now South Africa need to win four out of four to prove they are the best.