Pakistan’s campaign is now up and running, and much credit should go to the bowlers, who have been exceptional. In the second week of the tournament Sri Lanka look like the team to beat. This is because they possess bowlers who have quality as well as a surprise element – something the Pakistan team boasts as well.
Umar Gul was one of the chief reasons why Pakistan made it to the finals of the last T20 World Cup, and this time, he is looking even better. Gul is a naturally attacking bowler who gets stifled if he does not get wickets, as containing runs is not his primary aim. I remember him looking a little tentative against Australia in Dubai. As I was in Dubai at the time I sent him a note telling him to run in strongly and go all out for wickets. I see Ishant Sharma is similar and he too should be encouraged to bowl an attacking line.
The other significant development for Pakistan was the return of Abdul Razzaq. He is a competent and reliable bowler and a player who can hit sixes. Players who can loft the ball are game-changers in T20, and it helps Pakistan’s balance to have Razzaq back.
However, the deadly duos are far as bowling is concerned have been the two SAs for Pakistan and the two Ms for Sri Lanka. Saeed Ajmal is flourishing because he has not been seen by international players, who are finding it impossible to pick his well-disguised doosra.
Shahid Afridi’s stronger suit now is definitely his bowling, which he as worked on so that he can vary his pace beautifully. For Sri Lanka Muthiah Muralitharan is a past master at variation, while Ajantha Mendis possesses the mystery ball as well as the advantage of not being in international cricket for too long.
I feel that India miss Anil Kumble in T20. Harbhajan Singh is a fine bowler, but he is in the classical mould and needs longer spells. Kumble was a bowler who was unpredictable and a little more unconventional.
He had guile and variety and bowled at a pace that made it hard for batsmen to line him up.