Gul's spell lets Pakistan spread wings

New Zealand 99 Pakistan 100-4 (Pakistan win by six wickets)

In an irresistible spell of accurate fast bowling that embellished a compelling Pakistan performance, Umar Gul yesterday became the first bowler to take five wickets in a Twenty20 international. His figures of 5 for 6 in three overs against New Zealand all but assured his side victory.

They were chasing an even 100 to win after Gul's intervention and, to the delight of their fervent support, duly achieved much as they liked for the loss of four wickets with a massive 41 balls to spare. Super Eight Group F is now wide open and if New Zealand can regain their composure to defeat Sri Lanka and Ireland avoid inflicting more surprises there could be a three-way tie. But for emotional reasons Pakistan and Sri Lanka will have much justified neutral backing.

Much damage had already been inflicted on New Zealand by the time Umar entered the attack in the 13th over. The fact that a bowler as accomplished as him can be kept waiting until then merely shows the richness of Pakistan's talent. He ended any faint prospects of New Zealand making a fist of it. They had lost crucial early wickets and at the start of Umar's first over they were 72 for 4. By its end they were 74 for 6 with nowhere left to go.

The first of his wickets came courtesy of a breathtaking catch by Shahid Afridi, who ran some 30 yards back from mid-on to hold on to Scott Styris's steepling drive two yards from the boundary rope. There were judges of sound mind who swore that it was the best catch they had ever seen.

On returning three overs later, Gul took three more wickets in his next two overs, the first two with yorkers that were straight, fast and unplayable. New Zealand, who had shed three wickets in the first six overs in the powerplay, were simply overwhelmed.

Dismissed for 99, all they could reasonably expect was to limit the scale of their defeat. But if there is a team that should be wished well in the World Twenty20 it is Pakistan. They have, perforce, become the wandering minstrels of cricket. No side will play them in their own country and they have had a wretched time lately.

They played no Tests anywhere in 2008 and when they resumed earlier this year, terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team coach on the way to the ground in Lahore. The match was abandoned and the game in the country was once more in disarray. Somehow they keep going but they do much more than that by continuing to produce cricketers of joyous talent.

None of contemporary vintage has been much more joyous than Abdul Razzaq, who made his return to the international side yesterday after a gap of two years caused by his links with the outlawed Indian Cricket League. Having terminated his contract, the Pakistan Cricket Board absolved him and called him up for the tournament on Thursday to replace the injured Yasir Arafat.

Razzaq struck with his third ball back as Brendon McCullum steered to point. The veteran shared the new ball with 17-year-old Mohammad Amir, who also made an early incision.

After Pakistan lost to England, they looked slightly rudderless and captain Younus Khan smiled and said it was a fun game. It was a whole lot of fun yesterday but Pakistan are deadly serious contenders in this competition.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003