Pakistan and Abdul Razzaq repay the faith

It was always going to take something special to knock the news that Australia had been routed in a T20 international by Sri Lanka off the back pages. But boy was it special.

Abdul Razzaq absolutely annihilated South Africa, with the kind of innings which in years to come people will probably talk about as one of those “I was there” moments, a match-winning innings which belongs among the highest echelons of innings.

Smashing 109 off just 72 balls, hitting 10 sixes to rescue Pakistan in a match they seemed destined to lose. For almost 90 overs of this game they were distinctly second best, but towards the end of both innings they were dominant.

But ultimately all you can say was that it was brilliant, white knuckle ride of an innings. A whirlwind, blitzkreig of massive shots and a complete masterclass in handling both the drama of the occasion, but also the chase of an imposing and difficult total.

He smashed sixes off the spinners and faster bowlers alike, timed the innings to perfection, and took Albie Morkel and Charl Langeveldt to the cleaners. In total he smashed 63 of the last 65 runs Pakistan scored in the innings, and hit 10 of the 12 sixex which Pakistan hit in their innings to send them over the line in dramatic fashion with one ball left.

It was a timely reminder of just what Abdul Razzaq and Pakistan are capable of, not just in the context of this series, but of the past six months, which have been dominated more by their deeds off the pitch than on them.

It showed that they, more than any other cricketing nation, remain capable of the extraordinary, combining sometimes outrageous displays of daring with more than a touch of drama. Few do drama and audacity quite like Pakistan, but even this was something else.

The irony that such a display should come on the very day when the ICC chose not to uphold the appeals from Salman Butt and Mohammed Aamir’s against their bans will not be lost on some.

The accusations which stand against them characterise a darker side to Pakistan cricket, a side which has all-too often dominated the stories about them. This is a side which damages their reputation, and tarnishes the work of good and honest Pakistan cricketers who are brought down by the dishonesty of a few.

Yet Razzaq’s display, and this tremendous snatch victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat result, simply reminded us that while they can test the loyalties of even their most ardent fans, there is still that other side to their character which ultimately makes such faith rewarding.

Thus this was not only a brilliant and thrilling cricketing moment, but also a timely one.

It was a moment that repaid the faith which thousands of fans and followers have invested in them and confirmed that for all the controversy which has dogged them recently, there is another side which can help make all the turmoil and frustration.

While this was a moment worthy of any adjective, perhaps the best description of all is that it finally has people talking about Pakistan for all the right reasons again.


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