PAK - SA [scorecard]
NZ - ENG [scorecard]
The Saffas are deservedly mooing homewards, as much as it hurts me to say that, but Graeme Smith obviously never planned to win this match, given his decision to drop Morne and thus go in with just one speedblitz, namely Dale Steynveldt. I cannot publicly repeat the thoughts in my head when the bifflinger's toss statement appeared on the screen.
Pakistan surprisingly included Khalid Latif, who did exactly what I expected from him *hrr hrr* But the performance of the others was more than enough for the Spinach Boys to bag two points, they played the spin well (and Smitho if you claim you didn't know that then you should get liposuction in the brain).
The Saffa bowlers did a good job, no doubt, especially the outstanding Charl Langeveldt with 4 for 19 would for fred's sake have deserved to go through to the semis. The injured Steynveldt, Kallis and Botha did reasonably well, even Albie bowled okay, sort of, although I was near asphyxiation when he strode in to open.
|Smithy departs for good (c) Getty Images|
But the atrocious van der Merwe, who played instead of Morne, undid all the good work as the Pakistani batters clubbed him for 33 runs in just two overs. Bifflich you cannot tell me that Morne would have leaked more. I would not even blame vdM for this, I think any other average spinner would have got whacked around in the same way.
Pakistan played like the horned one was behind them. I have never seen them throw themselves across the park like that, there was not a single bloody misfield to moan about, in fact they looked tight and compact in the field and Ukmal and Misbah took great catches, as the spinners inflicted their damage in regular intervals, especially Saeed Ajmal sticks out once again with 4 for 26, what a bowler.
The early removal of dangerman Butt and the departure of the useless Latif and Hafeez didn't hamper them a great deal, the Pakmals stood up for their team and even Afridi started to score, which shows what special day it was for the Greenwhites.
Pakistan's progression depends on the English success against the Kiwis, and pitifully I can't see much of a problem here for the Pommerals unless they can't even wipe their backsides without KP.
Alright, New Zealand have played, and my heart lies shattered as it is time to sing the song...
... bye bye black sheep
New Zealand put up a much better fight than the Saffas and it was a really beautiful game to watch, but England are just too bloody strong, happy and confident that you can't overcome them, you have to acknowledge that, KP or not, this is an excellent side that definitely deserves to be where they are.
New Zealand's bowlers sure gave their all but England's batsmen made a wonderful comprehensive effort and chased down the target with ease.
|Tim Bresnan indicates the route of march for his team (c) AFP|
New Zealand decided to bat first, got a reasonable start and batted in a really relaxing manner, it was good to look at and felt a bit like being on holiday. But they choked a little during the end overs and I think 20 runs were missing to make the chase a bit more demanding for the English.
It is ironic that the Kiwis batted so well but still lost the match. BcCullum clicked, Scotty Styris, the walking gut, served up a really entertaining innings and finally also LRPL had his go at the bowlers and delivered what had been expected from him a lot earlier. Vettori, though fighting with his stiff back, came in too late, I would have loved to see him instead of Gareth Mehkins, of who I still can make neither head nor tail.
England weren't planning to take any prisoners, 150 looked a good target to them. Kies couldn't quite fire today, Boppy (who replaced KP) and Colly nurdled themselves to death, but Lumb took off and bashed Bond and The Man; Wright and Bresnan both added several utterly cordial strikes to the collection, while Morgan had the Kiwis eat from his hand. This humble little ginger boy makes me just gawk in amazement, he actually deserves a whole team just for himself, as a sign of England's gratefulness.
Scotty Styris ruled with the ball, took 2 for 16, and also Vettori tried his best, but the other bowlers were torn to shreds. Bond should be mentioned of course with his 2 for 29, but he received quite some treatment, and Nathan McCullum, who has had a great tournament up to this point, was greeted with utter disrespect. Millsy bowled at 10 per over, Butler's short cameo went for 10 as well. England just didn't give a damn and slapped the runs off happily.
So this means that we have to say good bye to all of the farm animals, I am very sad about this. Pakistan ride into the semis, we shall see how they cope with the big boys, I haven't looked at the grouping yet but sure they will have to fight a couple of challenging battles. Tomorrow / today we will know more about the goners from Group F; AUS and WI will be fun to watch with the Australian summer still fresh in their minds, Chris Gayle is gonna make sure that he fires all cannons, and IND and SL will probably try to strangle each other to death with bare hands, I'm curious to find out who of them is still breathing at the end.