That’s right, I’m talking to you, Pakistan cricket team.

What should we conclude from last night’s semi-final, where Pakistan handily beat South Africa by seven runs, defending a modest target of 150?

Well, first off, anyone can beat anyone else in this format. This fact was thrown in our faces when the Dutch left the English with egg on their faces by being disciplined, sticking to their plan, and swinging their bats with wild abandon.

Now, to those ultra-nationalists who are up in arms, shouting “What do you mean ANYONE?! This is Pakistan, an established side!” To you, ladies and sirs, I say only this: Shut up. It’s ok. We’re not a particularly great side at the moment, and South Africa were playing incredible cricket. They were the favourites, hands down.

So what happened?

Well, in a nutshell, Shahid Khan Afridi and Umar Gul. But, to be honest, and this is heartening, the team is behaving very much as a unit out on the pitch, and it doesn’t appear that any one or two players are hogging the glory. What I particularly liked, by the way, was Younis Khan’s reaction to Fawad Alam’s direct hit from long off in the final over: he didn’t celebrate, instead he started yelling at Muhammad Aamir for not backing up behind the stumps.

A Pakistani captain placing emphasis on fielding? Will wonders never cease?

Words cannot describe how good Umar Gul has been this series, and how good he was particularly in this match. He may not have taken any wickets, but those yorkers in his final spell were devastating. Allowing just 6 runs off the second last over took all the pressure off Muhammad Aamir, who was defending 23 in 6 balls. Gul has, I think, finally blossomed into a fine, nuanced fast medium bowler. He appears, at least to me, have gotten a little quicker over the last year or so, and is now bowling with guile and menace.

And his attitude is a welcome change from that of Muhammad Asif or Shoaib Akhtar, too.

As for the second semi-final, for me it hinges on how well Gayle and Bravo play. If they have an off day, Sri Lanka will take it comfortably, but once the Gayle starts blowing, you never know what’ll happen. Right now, though, Sangakkara, Dilshan, Mendis, Murali and Malinga appear to be just a bit too much.

-el kapitan

Umer Gul So confident was Umer Gul in his yorking abilities that he broke out his
best break-dancing moves to psych out the Saffies.

Picture courtesy AP

p.s. in Confed Cup news, Egypt beats Italy 1-0, setting up a mouthwatering must-win next match for Italy against Brazil. The Egyptians have been building a great side over the last few years, and they were incredible during the African Cup of Nations. I am a fan. Come on you Pharaohs!