Pakistan were cruising in the first One-Day International (ODI) against South Africa at Sharjah having bowled the visitors out for a paltry score of 183. From 135 for four in the 36th over, Pakistan spiraled downwards to being bowled out for 182 — one run short of the South African total. Prakash Govindasreenivasan talks about Pakistan cricket and its reputed inconsistency being a reporter’s worst nightmare.
It must have been a calm, sedate evening for most reporters on October 30 who were covering the South Africa-Pakistan game. While India and Australia were busy in a closely-contested scuffle in a high-scoring match, Pakistan had a straightforward chase ahead of them.
Having bowled out South Africa for just 183, they had a golden opportunity to draw first blood in the series. Most scribes around the world would have started making their first draft of the match report at the half-way stage, talking about Pakistan’s ability to seize momentum first and perform well at ‘home away from home.’
However, there are very few teams like Pakistan who often tend to walk over their own landmines. At 135 for four in the 36th over a lot of reporters would have been ready with close 70 per cent of their reports. In fact, a lot of them would have even started penning their thoughts on the glaring difference in South Africa’s Test and ODI side in terms of domination and results. How much would they have known as to what was about to happen?
Misbah-ul-Haq’s wicket in the 36th over may have given a shimmer of hope to the eternally optimistic South African fans. Pakistan needed 49 from 85 balls with six wickets in hand. On nine out of 10 such situations, most people would have switched channels to catch up on some lively entertainment rather. Yet, Pakistan made a hash of the little remains of the chase.
Four overs later, Pakistan had to chase 25 from the final 10 overs. At this point, it would be surprising to find out if there was even one reporter covering the game who hadn’t already ruled this game in favour of the ‘hosts’ and based his match report on those line. In that sense, it was the perfect timing for Pakistan to begin imploding.
The next four overs astonishingly fetched five wickets. Pakistan were suddenly down to 177 for nine, still needing seven runs from six overs.
Pakistan batsmen found new ways to get out as reporters world over were nervously looking over their reports. When Morne Morkel breached Mohammad Irfan’s defence to earn a one-run win from the most unlikely situation, a reporter’s worst nightmare had come alive.
There are numerous instances where Pakistan’s inconsistency has come in the way of their potential and ruined what could have been a simple and even comprehensive wins on a lot of occasions. Wednesday evening was one that the reporters spent in refurbishing what could have been a simple write-up and an early drive home.