The Haal Of Pakistan

Osman Samiuddin in All Out Cricket:

ScreenHunter_134 Mar. 12 11.34One November night in Sharjah, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene came together to do what they had been doing for what now seems like forever. It was a warm, oily evening, the air heavy and lubricated. The pair had joined forces at 53 for 3, chasing 201 for the win. The pitch was a grubby orangey-brown, where batsmen were regularly through their strokes too early. Pakistan were 2-1 up in the series and playing in a recrudescent stadium, but this was still pretty routine firefighting for the Sri Lankan pair.

Neither batsman was comfortable to begin with because you couldn’t really be on that surface. But once they got past the first 20 minutes, the familiarity of the task took over. Boundaries were bonuses – only three came in 17 overs from the 18th onwards – so, like good traffic cops, they simply kept the flow moving along. Single here, double there, single here, double there, nice and steady. By the 38th over, they had put on 102 and were looking as settled as two old buddies watching the game on an old, much-shared couch.

Sri Lanka now needed just 46 with 74 balls still to come (the required run-rate wasn’t high, but the nature of the pitch made it a little steeper). The crowd, largely Pathan, were still pretty cheery but attention from the match had slipped, and was focused on the occasion itself; Pakistan were, after all, returning after many years to a venue where they had created love and magic and darkness.

More here. [Thanks to Feisal H. Naqvi.]