There are games where a scorecard at the end of the match fails to tell the whole story. The Pakistan-India encounter in the Asia Cup 2014 was one of those games. Although the encounter will forever be remembered for Shahid Afridi’s two sixes off Ravichandran Ashwin in the last over, the entire match was the perfect embodiment of the condition of Pakistani squad at that time.
Throwing in a surprise with the addition of Mohammad Talha in the pace department and sticking to the usual spin trio of Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi to restrict the opposition, Pakistan bowled first. They did a good job, but leaked runs towards the end to give India a competitive score – by Pakistan’s standards.
The reply was no different from the usual Pakistani batting display. After a 71-run opening partnership, Pakistan was reduced to 113/4. Hafeez then played the anchor role, but too much was left towards the end to be handled by anyone but Afridi.
With ten needed off the last over, Afridi was the last or perhaps the only hope. Pakistan had been there many times, and Afridi had won them many matches before. But what followed was perhaps to be remembered as the most memorable sixes after Javed Miandad’s heroics in 1986.
The last over was made even more dramatic with the wicket of Ajmal off the first ball, and for a moment Pakistan had the scare of being bowled out with Afridi stuck at the other end. But on the next delivery – very similar to the one which bowled Ajmal – Junaid Khan was able to steal a single at square leg.
From there, it was Lala vs Ashwin, with every result possible. The first ball was a massive swipe that landed well over long on. The next ball, with 3 to win off 3, was skewered by Afridi but his impressive strength meant it also sailed over the ropes for six. It couldn’t have been scripted any better.
The writer tweets @khaledumair