Friday Nov 01, 2019
T20I cricket has been around for almost 15 years but believe it or not, during all this time, Pakistan have played just one T20I against Australia in Australia.
That match was played on Feb 5, 2010 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when Pakistan came within a whisker of writing their T20I record Down Under with a thrilling win.
For better or for worse, that game was all about siblings Kamran and Umar Akmal.
Chasing a modest 128-run target, the Shoaib Malik-led side suffered a nightmare start in the run chase, which is nothing unusual for Pakistan cricket.
With namesake openers Imran Nazir and Imran Farhat both gone at the combined score of 10, Kamran, who had been pretty useless on that tour till that point, finally decided to make himself useful for a change.
The elder Akmal had dropped catches in bunches in the 3-0 Test whitewash and contributed just 68 runs with the subsequent bat in the ODI series at an average of 17. Pakistan had been swept aside 5-0 in the ODIs too.
But with the chips down, the tour unsalvageable and the PCB sharpening its knives backs home, Kamran showed up in the only T20I.
As wickets tumbled around him, he became a one-man wrecking ball, smashing a 33-ball 64 laced with seven 4s and two 6s. In a meagre 120-something target, a 60-something blitzkrieg from a single batter usually proves more than enough to get the win.
However, nothing is usual in matters of Pakistan cricket, even more so when in Australia. After Shoaib Malik became the fourth batsman to fall at the score of 59 in the 9th over, at the crease were Kamran and the younger Umar.
Kamran, as we’ve told, was trying to cap a disastrous tour with a super late consolation. When he was out on the first ball of the 15th over, the scoreline read 98-5. The equation was simple: 30 needed off 35 balls with one Akmal gone but the other one, supposedly a finisher, at the crease.
Umar still also had half the batting line-up and the entire tail left to work with. Among those left was a certain fan-favourite named Fawad Alam and guys like Rana Naveed-ul-Hasan and Umar Gul, both of whom could swing the ball but also bat.
Umar, as is the story of his career, could not get the team home. His 25-ball 21 had no boundaries. Of course, Fawad, and especially Rana were the main culprits, wasting 14 precious balls in the last few overs for a combined contribution of just two runs (a run each). But Umar, too, cannot not dodge blame, for he was not supposed to let a tail-ender like Rana face nine balls.
The match was still not completely out of reach in the final over when Pakistan needed 10 off six balls — a pretty doable task.
But alas, Umar, instead of at least staying till the end, was out on the first ball of the over.
In the end, number 11 batsman Mohammad Asif was required to hit a six to tie the match. He could only manage a four as Pakistan lost by two runs.
Unfortunately, the Akmal brothers will not be able to make amends as neither has been picked for the T20I series between Australia and Pakistan which starts Sunday.