Logistics were interesting again to get to this match at Edgbaston, I had a dinner for the Chris Gayle Foundation to go to in London the night before and a game at the Oval the day after. With this in mind I booked an Airbnb near Euston and a Virgin Train to Birmingham and back for the day.
Getting to the dinner at The Grange Hotel, St Paul’s was something of a rush, it’s a good jib I don’t wear much make up as I put what I do on in the taxi on my way to drop my things at the Airbnb. A quick change of clothes and I was back in a taxi and on my way to St Paul’s.
The dinner was as always a delight, and I must thank my good friend Daren Mootoo, I got to meet Chris Gayle, Michael Clarke and most exciting of all Gordon Greenidge, all 3 were lovely. I also had a chat with Ravi Bopara and James Foster from Essex CCC. Piers Morgan interviewed Chris and for me concentrated too much on his womanising and not enough on his cricket, he is one of the very best in the world after all. We also learnt about the work of the Foundation, it was great to hear from some of the young men whose lives have been changed through the good work of the charity.
My 3rd taxi of the day took me back to my bed for the night, a room in an apartment a short walk from Euston, it was perfectly placed and I had a surprisingly good nights’ sleep. I arrived at the station the following day to find my train to Birmingham cancelled. There’s been a train problem near Watford Junction I believe, it all worked out rather well as I caught the next train and had the company of Daniel Norcross, one of the TMS presenters for the journey. He’s great company and we spent most of the trip laughing!
My seat at Edgbaston was up high, which meant the wind battered me all day, it was clear that the majority of the fans in the stadium were there to support Pakistan, I hoped they’d have a good day, but after a woeful performance against arch rivals India I wasn’t incredibly hopeful as they faced one of the best teams in the world.
However as the saying goes, ‘cricket is a funny old game’. I had only watched the India game on the TV, but this was like watching a totally different team! South Africa won the toss and elected to bat. I was if I’m honest expecting something of a runs fest, their line up is deep and full of top class batters. The Pakistan bowling line up had different plans.
Hashim Amla, a man with a remarkable One Day record was the first to be despatched as he fell LBW to Imad, he had 16 to his name and South Africa 40. Faf du Plessis joined Quentin de Kock at the wicket, the pair made 20 before de Kock was on his way back to the pavilion for 33 runs, LBW again but this time to the experienced Hafeez.
That top line up continued as AB de Villiers one of the best in the world rocked up, something amazing happened in the next over, he was out for a Golden Duck for the first time in his one day career. Hafeez and Imad combined with Hafeez taking the catch. The crowd, including me went crazy! That was a huge wicket and something special was brewing!
David Miller was in next, and was the only South African to acquit himself well, du Plessis saw his bails fly and he was bowled by Hasan Ali, he had only 26 runs to his name and South Africa were 90 for 4.
Miller scored an impressive 75, and finished the innings Not Out, but his team mates could only contribute a further 54 runs as South Africa finished on 219 from their 50 overs. That was an exceptional display by Pakistan, both with the ball and in the field, they were a delight to watch.
I found myself singing Dil Dil Pakistan along with the many fans in the ground, it was exciting cricket! And that excitement was to continue with what was played of the Pakistan innings, Azhar Ali, one of the best test batsmen in the world currently opened with a new face (for me anyway) Fakhar Zaman. As good a test batsman as Azhar is, it almost feels like white ball cricket isn’t really his thing. The same couldn’t be said for the big hitting Fakhar, he made 31 from 23 balls, including six Fours, he was great to watch!
But, he was also first out, a great catch by Amla from the bowling of the quite scary Morkel in the 8th over, Azhar followed him 2 balls later as the extravagant Imran Tahir took the catch. The runs were fluctuating below then finally above Duckworth Lewis which was inevitably going to be how the game was decided. Babar Azam was not out 31 Hafeea made 26 before falling to the Tahir/Morkel combination and Shoaib Malik made 16 from 14 balls in what was most probably a decisive innings.
The weather had been pretty awful all day and the rain came along with Pakistan ahead by 19 runs under the D/L method, therefore they gained a deserved victory they’d made 119 runs from the 27 overs and I feel were heading for that win rain or not! The unpredictable Pakistan were back in winning ways!
My journey home was a pleasant one chatting to a sports mad lady and her daughter, having met a group of travelling India fans here from Mumbai. Next up for me was India v Sri Lanka, I’d enjoyed being a Pakistan fan for the day!