The mercurial vs. the methodical …

June 21, 2009

…anyone who watches cricket and is looking forward to the T20 World Cup final today knows who is who. Mercurial probably describes Pakistan better than most other words while Sri Lankans have gone about their job in the most methodical manner.

One is surprised, yet not shocked by Pakistan’s presence in the finals. We all know that when it is their day, then they just roll over their opponents like no one else and then you can only sit and watch. Their journey to the semi-finals was rather stuttered, infact only one good victory to speak for, just that the nature of the draw meant one strong performance was enough to take them through. Even before the tournament, they crashed rather heavily against India. In the group stages they beat lowly Netherlands but lost to the Englishmen. In the super 8s, drawn in a group with Ireland, they lost to Sri Lanka but managed to thrash the Kiwis courtesy an inspired performance by Umar Gul and that is the sole top notch victory that took them to the semis while the other three semi-finalists in South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies registered strong victories against mighty nations to claim their respective berths.

But then, come semi-final and South Africa, the best team in the tournament along with Sri Lanka, ran into the most enigmatic player of the Pakistani team. Afridi single handedly blew South Africa away, once again proving what he can do when in the mood. Maybe that is why Pakistan always persist with him because on his day he will turn the match on its head, even though 4 out of 5 times he scores less than nothing.

Sri Lanka on the other hand have been clinical and methodical. Dilshan has shown the way and Jayasuriya, Sangakarra and Jayawardene have all chipped in. Over to the bowlers and Murali and Mendis have spun a vicious web leaving it to Malinga to polish the opponents off. This is their method and it has worked beautifully so far in each and every match.

So come D-day, who do you think will prevail?

Will brilliance take Pakistan over the line? Will Afridi come to the party again and prove why Pakistan still need him? Will Umar Gul fire his deadly yorkers yet again? Or will it be the wily M&M whose web will prove impossible to break? Will the grand old man of cricket show why he is still reverred and along with Dilshan build a match winning opening partnership?

It promises to be a twisted ride, a lot of unknowns, Pakistan could either capitulate or they could destroy. It should be an unforgettable finale.

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