The 2009 edition of the game's biggest rivalry commenced with the England media praising their team to the skies and speculating on the various 'problems' their bowlers would pose for the Australian batsmen.
Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last time, was the fourth estate proved wrong. Australia's emphatic response to England's first-innings total in the ongoing Test at Cardiff would have dampened the spirits of cricket-lovers in England. Going by the way Ricky Ponting, Simon Katich and Michael Clarke batted, it appears that England are in for a tough time in the matches to follow.
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However, cricket has this time-and-tested propensity to prove us wrong. The game almost invariably has the last laugh, and therefore, it will be unwise to jump to any conclusions. The first Test of the ongoing Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was a case in point.
All of Pakistan would have been ecstatic when their side, which has played hardly any cricket for a year, batted and bowled itself into a winning position by the end of the third innings of the game. A Test win overseas would have been like the proverbial icing on the cake, after the splendid display in the ICC World T20.
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However, the Pakistani players were probably guilty of getting obsessed with the result and not the process. The Sri Lankans, capably led by Kumara Sangakkara, sensed the same, and seized on it. Muttiah Muralitharan is not a player who likes to miss matches, but he would have been delighted to watch left-arm spinner Rangana Herath 'turn it around,' literally and figuratively, in the fourth innings. Thilan Thushara, who has the makings of a good all-rounder, is another player who should serve the island-nation well in the years to come.
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The Pakistani players would have found it difficult after the game to come to terms with the fact that they failed to overhaul a target of 168. But then, nobody will be surprised if the visitors hit back hard in the second Test. The Pakistani team management would have emphasized the need to 'complete' what had been 'initiated.' The second Test should be a good game.
Pakistan's first innings in the first Test belonged to the 'comeback man'. Mohammed Yousuf carved out a delectable hundred and took his team to a position from where it looked impregnable, until the catastrophe happened in the second innings. His innings of 112 makes Mohammed Yousuf the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.
Professional Management Group