Speaking about potential threats on the eve of their last league tie against Pakistan, Ricky Ponting had termed Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul as “their standout players”. The Australia skipper had also stressed on the need to “play those guys well” to win the game and top the group.
While the yellow brigade dealt well with the leg-spinner, they could barely tackle the lanky fast bowler. That eventually turned out to be the difference between a respectable target for Pakistan and the eventual mediocre total of 176.
With Shoaib Akhtar missing out on a berth as the Pakistan team management relied on the rookie Wahab Riaz and veteran Abdul Razzaq, who has lost out on pace, Gul had to carry the mantle of the pace attack.
The 26-year-old did the job perfectly from the opening over till he ended the Australian innings with Brett Lee’s dismissal.
In his first five-over spell, Gul not only restricted Australia from getting off to a flying start but also got the prized scalp of Shane Watson with a gem of a delivery that pitched outside off and came in sharply to shatter the woodwork.
At the death, just when it looked like Steve Smith and Jason Krejza could bat out the last 10 overs and help Australia cross 200, Gul came back to wrap up the innings by dismissing Krejza and Lee in quick succession. His figures read three for 30.
The only scare Gul had was at the start of his second over when he appeared to have locked his knee. But once he received treatment, injury was the last thing on his mind.