When Faf du Plessis fell to Mohammad Nawaz during the World XI’s chase of Pakistan’s 175 in the second T20I, his side required 69 off the last 36 balls. The match was hung in balance and most of those watching favoured Pakistan to come out victorious.
But things turned sharply in the World XI’s favour when Thisara Perera, the Sri Lankan representative in the side, freed his arms to smoke Sohail Khan for a six over the square-leg boundary in the 17th over.
Sitting in the commentary box, Pakistani legend Waqar Younis had termed a 49-off-21 equation to to be the matter of “a couple of big blows” with “the shorter boundaries (which at around 75-meter-long don’t quite qualify as short) and the quicker outfield” bound to help the batting side.
Four balls later with 40 needed off the last 16 balls, Perera struck Rumman Raees for his second six off a low full-toss over the long-on fence. He would go on to hit three more sixes, all off full-tosses, with the final one winning the match for his side and leveling the series 1-1.
Of course that is not how the Pakistani bowlers were supposed to bowl at the Lankan all-rounder. That is not how you bowl to any batsman in the death overs. Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur revealed his side had a plan against Perera, but failed to execute it against the beefy all-rounder who piled up 47 not out in just 19 balls to lead his team to a seven wicket win.
“There was a very clear plan against Perera and it was to bowl him wide yorkers,” Arthur said when asked where his side went wrong in the dying stages of the match. “We know Thisara hits from deep long-on to square-leg. We wanted him to hit us over cover. Our bowlers tried bowling yorkers but ended up bowling a bit straighter. The margins of error at this stage are very small. We just did not execute the plan better.”
With the bowlers failing to find the right length, Pakistan’s fielders weren’t up to the mark either. Their most experienced player, Shoaib Malik, put down a regulation catch at long-off in the penultimate over when the World XI still needed 22. Their lackluster ground fielding allowed the opposition batsmen to turn singles into twos.
“We got under pressure in the last five overs,” Arthur said as he continued to deconstruct his team’s performance. “We dropped a crucial catch. There were a couple of runs conceded that shouldn’t have been.”
The teams have a breather with Thursday off, before the third and final T20I on Friday. It gives Pakistan an opportunity to regather themselves and win the historic series. Arthur seemed eager to make the most of the break. “We are going to sit down and have a chat about why our skills deteriorated when the pressure was on.”