Pakistan tempted fate as only they can and paid the ultimate price as they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a humdinger against New Zealand.
It is very rare that you have an opportunity to become a hero in just one ball in cricket, but for left-arm spinner Abdur Rahman, playing his first game for Pakistan in three years, it was a case of so near and yet so far. Charged with scoring two runs off the final ball of the innings to seal the win, Rahman flicked Ian Butler cleanly, but watched in horror as he had picked out Martin Guptill in the deep.
At different stages in the game, Pakistan had the chance to seal the deal, but not once did they grasp it. A chase of 133 should not have provided serious problems, but the manner in which New Zealand fought for every run ensured that the stage was set for a close finish.
Salman Butt, who had been the lone batsman with a clear head and common sense, was on 59 when the final over began, with 11 still needed. Butler, sensing the opportunity, sent down a bouncer, which Butt played at and missed. Butt then opened the face of the bat cleverly, slicing the second ball to the vacant third-man region. A dot ball followed by a cut of four brought the equation down to 3 needed off 2 balls. Butt, who was the set batsman, had the best chance of finishing the game, but a scampered bye left him stranded at the non-striker's end.
For Shahid Afridi, the inquest is likely to begin shortly, given that his captaincy in general, and his tactical acumen specifically, are already under intense scrutiny.
Earlier, Rahman picked up the key wickets of Brendon McCullum and Guptill and Mohammad Sami managed to winkle out two top-order wickets. From 58 for 4 it was only 38 from Daniel Vettori that bailed New Zealand out and pushed the score to 133.
The good work done, Pakistan collapsed. Poor shot selection accounted for four of the top five and New Zealand were back in the game. They, unlike Pak, held on tight right to the end.