The oval in London has been home to many a standout performance during the World T20 so far. Be it Chris Gayle’s belligerent batting display against the Aussies or even Rohit Sharma’s stunning 53-ball 80 against Pakistan, the crowds at the SE11 have seen it all. A display of quality reverse swing bowling in a T20 match is something pace bowlers dream off. But, Pakistan’s Umar Gul on Saturday produced a spell, which any opposition, let alone New Zealand would have found difficult to handle.
Often overshadowed by injury problems, a fit-Gul is quite clearly Pakistan’s trump card – the man that skipper Younis Khan will throw the ball to, in good times and bad. And for a man who just loves bowling, there could have been no better reward than that super five-wicket haul he picked against the Kiwis.
Even as he came on to bowl, some Pakistan fans were left perplexed, for Younis threw the ball to him in the 13th over. Perhaps the strategy was to choke the Kiwi middle-order with some tight spin bowling, courtesy Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal – and that worked for Pakistan. Gul came through and picked two big wickets straightaway, that of set batsmen Scott Styris and Peter McGlashan off consecutive balls.
Shahid Afridi played a critical role in Gul’s heroics, with a running catch of Styris that left everyone stunned. That, was perhaps the break Gul really needed. The ball began reversing and McGlashan had no clue to what was coming his way before Gul trapped him with a yorker.
Gul’s brief from Younis was simple – hit the base of the stumps, fast and full. “My captain just told me to go and get wickets and that’s what I did,” he said after his breathtaking spell.
And coming from a country which produced Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, Gul didn’t need much inspiration either. “I have really developed my yorker by watching videos of Waqar and Wasim. They have really helped me.” he added. Neil McCullum and James Franklin went blind for a second as they saw that white ball crash fast and hard into the leg and middle stump respectively.
And Gul doesn’t want to stop here. “Now I want to be the highest wicket-taker in the tournament,” he said, signing off with a trademark big beaming smile.
Parnell ahead of his time
AFP adds from London:
Wayne Parnell’s long-term aim when he was a junior international cricketer was to make sure he was in SA's 30-man squad for the 2011 World Cup.
It was fair to say, after the 19-year-old left-arm quick took four for 13 runs in the Proteas' World T20 win over the West Indies, that the teenager was on course to achieve that goal.
Reflecting on his latest impressive display — which saw Parnell record the equal fifth-best T20 international figures of all time — the modest paceman told reporters: “I was just backing my skills and staying calm.”
He added there had been nothing spectacular about his introduction to cricket.
“I played in the park, played in the yard and then I moved on to the hard ball."
But Parnell was not just any old — or indeed young — schoolboy cricketer.