Catches win matches. Dropped catches and overthrows that reach the boundary? That’s handing over the match to the opponent on a silver platter. More than enough misfielding. 23 extras. This was one of the most important matches for Sri Lanka. And they did mess up. The pain on L Malinga’s face was truly tangible.
But not to take the credit away from Pakistan. They played a very good match. They did have their share of mistakes, yes. But the mistakes of Sri Lanka were more expensive. Leading to Pakistan winning by 3 wickets and joining the other three teams - India, Bangladesh, and England - in the Semi-Finals of the ICC Championships 2017.
What happened to Sri Lanka? This is what Ravi Shastri asks, appalled. This is not how one plays in an important tournament as this. Sri Lanka did put on an amateur show. No, I am not being too critical. It was rather embarrassing. Fielding, once a strong suit, has now become a reason for their loss.
Sarfaraz played a captain’s innings. This knock has made all the difference to the team. When Pakistan walked in to chase, the total of 236 was good, not impossible. The first wicket fell at 74 with opening batsmen, Ali hitting 34 and Zaman, 50. Once the first wicket fell, the other six seemed to fall rather quickly. Five wickets fell in a span of 45 runs. They truly seemed to be running out of wickets. They had a ton of overs left. That was the cushion they were leaning on, I guess. And then Sarfaraz found his mojo. 61 of 79 deliveries, the captain led the team from the front along with Mohammad Amir. The partnership of 75 took them home.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan won the toss and sent Sri Lanka in. Only Niroshan Dickwella (73) hit more than half-century. The rest fell to small numbers. There was nothing outstanding about the batting. The target was not un-defendable. Sri Lanka lost the plot with the dropped catches and the misfielding.
The relief on their faces of the Pakistan players and the fans was simply overflowing. It was not just joy and excitement. And they deserve to celebrate. They held their nerves when under pressure. Quite rare, especially after a mid-innings collapse. This is a historic win for them. Whatever happens henceforth, this match will be a good one to remember for years to come.
So what next? Pakistan meet England, and India meet Bangladesh. No one could have predicted these four teams in the semis. This is cricket for you. Unpredictable.