If you are in the US and a cricket lover, there is every chance that you wasted the last few optimistic nights, occasionally staring at the incessant snow. The snow seemed to get whiter and brighter with hope. The mighty hope was to see a new beginning in 2010 and watch the unpredictable Pakistani team embarrass Australia at their home. But at the end, alas, the familiar ending was as conventional as a Bollywood movie ending. Hussey scored 4 match winning innings rolled into one, in the second innings as Kamran Akmal dropped not one, not two, but three catches off Kaneria. But they still had only 175 runs to win in 2 days. Even then, they managed to lose the match by 36 runs. What a shame for Pakistan!
With a slender lead of 80 runs and 2 wickets to go, the Pakistani captain started the day unwillingly. The players must have wanted to sleep some more, and the innovative captain let several fielders sleep near the boundary. Yousuf (I still prefer calling him Youhana though) is a great classy batsman alright, but doesn’t look like he can be a decent captain. Younis is a confused capable man who gets emotional at the drop of a hat But which Pakistani team has not had its share of in-fighting and except Imran, when have we seen a good leader? I am terribly lost and have no idea why Kamran Akmal is still the wicket keeper of Pakistan, why Faisal Iqbal is in the team and that too at number 3, and why not give Misbah a break? Their bowling is lethal and if Aamer cannot play, they bring in Sami as a seamless seam bowling replacement. Aamer, Asif, Sami, Gul, Ajmal and Kaneria must be the best set of bowling options available for any country. But the brittle batting is as predictable as the location of a sub-atomic particle in a molecule. However, the same set of players are a different and determined lot when they face India. Salman Butt, Misbah, Kamran and even Faisal Iqbal would have never squandered such an advantage and pulled off an easy win.
It did not seem that Pakistan believed that they could indeed defeat Australia. Australia knew it would be tough to win but it is not in their game plan to give up. They fight till the end and that’s what won them the match. The saying, ‘Fortune favors the brave’ may well be changed to ‘Kamran favors the Hussey’ in the context of this match. At the end, the spirit of Hauritz and the way he held on to a catch despite getting injured, not letting the ball go and enduring the pain – that grit is something you got to admire even if you hate the way the Australians sledge, throw tantrums and every now and then remind you that they are indeed the most unsporting team in the world.
Moving to the NFL, one gets to witness some remarkable transformational plays within a matter of seconds or 1 or 2 minutes, (please, lets not get P Manning into this discussion). The objective is to win and you got to believe throughout the game that you can indeed win. If you are not playing to win, you are certainly not going to win.
Overconfidence while playing weaker opponents (Pittsburgh Steelers) and under-confidence while playing bigger names (Pakistani suicide cricket squad against Australia’s reputation) can both result in a loss.
It would be interesting to introspect, analyze and come up with your unique winning formula but irrespective of anything, the moral of the story is to keep playing whole-heartedly till the end. After all, the Steelers would probably be in the playoffs had the football game been composed of 3 quarters only.