Thriller in Karachi

Editorial Board
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Pakistan’s cricket fans couldn’t have asked for a better contest at Karachi’s iconic National Stadium to mark what was a major milestone for the country. On Sunday night, Pakistan became the first cricket team to play its 200th Twenty20 International and made the occasion memorable by winning a see-saw encounter against visiting England that went down to the wire. Trailing the seven-match series 1-2, Pakistan were staring at yet another defeat in the fourth T20 International but pacer Haris Rauf bowled a sensational 19th over as Pakistan took three wickets from six balls to seal a narrow three-run victory. The result helped them wrap up an extremely successful Karachi leg of the series at 2-2. The two teams have moved to Lahore where the last three games of the series will be played later this week.

If Sunday night’s game is any yardstick then one can expect a lot of fireworks in Lahore, especially from the home team which has so far been unable to really dominate the proceedings against a depleted England side apart from the comprehensive ten-wicket win in the second game of the series last week. The inability of Pakistan’s batters to raise their strike rate has been a big talking point for quite some time. The debate is becoming more intense as Pakistan are to launch their title campaign in the T20 World Cup which gets underway in Australia next month. The next three games of the series would provide Pakistan with a perfect opportunity to find answers to the various questions surrounding its batting line-up, especially the middle-order. Its bowlers like Haris Rauf have shown time and again that they can single-handedly win matches but to claim a major tournament like the T20 World Cup, Pakistan will need to click in all departments of the game.

Meanwhile, one hopes that the ongoing series, England’s first on Pakistani soil in 17 years, will continue to produce the sort of games like the fourth T20 International which was witnessed by a packed crowd of over 32,000 cheering fans. For years, Pakistani fans have been deprived of such opportunities but thankfully things are returning to normal. The success of this series will go a long way in restoring Pakistan’s status as a major hub in the cricket world.