Pakistan’s chaos innings. Iftikhar. Shadab. Bavuma. Soap balls. Nawaz. Fake fielding and other things umpires have missed.

Day 19 from the World Cup


How can you not be romantic about Pakistan cricket?

Where do you even begin with that innings?  Pakistan were in trouble in this match. They lost Rizwan fourth ball. Even with a lively cameo from Mohammad Haris, by the end of the powerplay they were 42/3, Babar out as well.

It continued a miserable run for Pakistan’s top order in this tournament – they were seen as one of their strengths coming into it. Averaging 38 at a strike rate of 128 in the two years leading up to it. In the four games so far this competition they now average 21 at a strike rate of 110.

And yet today that somehow didn’t matter.

Although as late as the 11th over things were still looking bad for Pakistan, they were still only scoring at 6.5 an over having made 71/4.

Then someone in the dressing room flicked the switch marked chaos.

The first sign something was afoot was when Shamsi misfielded a simple dab down to him at third man and it bounced off his wrist and went for four. That seemed to get Nawaz going, next delivery he picked Ngidi’s slower ball – easier said than done – and swung a four away into the leg side.

Next over Nawaz smashed a four and a six off Shamsi and then got ‘out’ to the last ball of the over – more on that later. A piece of pure chaos so good it deserves its own section.

You might imagine that would have derailed Pakistan, in fact it only seemed to get them – and the madness – going.

Iftikahar took them past 100 with a straight six down the ground, drizzle started to fall.

South Africa decided to bowl Shamsi out, Pakistan took 15 off the over, including a massive Shadab six over extra cover.

Next Ngidi bowled out, he’s been unplayable at times in white ball cricket recently. Of course then Ifikhar hit him for a 106m six, the longest hit of the tournament – Pakistan took another 15 from that over.

Anrich Nortje hasn’t been bad either recently, but then he hadn’t stood in the way of the Pakistan chaos train before. It didn’t end well. 13 from the over, another Shadab six. Parnell’s next over ‘only’ went for 11 and then it was Nortje back in the firing line.

The 19th over is often cited as the crucial one. Of course here it was the crescendo of Pakistan’s innings of madness.

First Iftikhar brought up his fifty, celebrated wildly. Two balls later Shadab smashed a six over square leg, it was a waist high no ball as well. Free hit. That went for six too.

The next ball was launched high into the air too and as it went up into the lights you could see it was raining a little harder now. Did that affect Markram? Who knows but he dropped it. Nortje’s over had gone for 18 and there were still two balls left.

Of course, both of those balls were wickets. Shadab caught in the deep and then Mohammad Wasim out slogging his first ball.

There was still an over to go, plenty of time for Ifikhar to get out for 51, a good catch by Rossouw. Naseem Shah to be dropped by Parnell and Haris Rauf to be dropped and then run out off the last ball, despite nearly successfully completing a third run he should have been nowhere near getting. The wheels had completely fallen off for South Africa in the field.

And at the end of all that, Pakistan had 185/9, their highest score in Australia by nearly 30 runs. Their 30th best T20 total of all time. A beautifully crafted anarchic Pakistan innings.


So a few years back I was working for an agent and one of his clients was Iftikhar Ahmed. And so I spent a lot of time looking at how he played, and while his overall numbers weren’t great, you could see that he was a fantastic talent. But there was one thing I was never sure about, was I overestimating his batting based on his numbers Vs Australia.

Apparently no one else bought my work, as Ifthikhar never got work in other T20 leagues. He has remained a PSL player, where he averages 19 and strikes at 118. That is not that inspiring, but because he can bowl too, it means he has more use. But last year he was great with the bat, and that is why Pakistan have brought him back, although this year he’s not been that good.

But there is something else really weird in his play today. In his entire career, he has played 169 T20s in Asia. 2 in Europe, and now 13 in Oceania. If we just focus on the places he has a nice sample size in, you will find that he has been incredible in Australia - and pretty good in New Zealand as well. But mostly that bump is Australia. He has played 7 innings there, and in them he has made three fifties. While striking at over 140.

And this is against better opposition that he finds in the PSL, and certainly other domestic Pakistan cricket.

Being that it is New Zealand and Australia, it could just be a fluke of his record. But watching him, it looks like he just prefers the way the ball comes on in Australia. The bounce and pace seem to suit him, against pace and spin. But also, he is a much better striker against pace, and perhaps he gets a higher percentage of it in these regions.

Today he hit 51 from 35, and it was his partnership with Shadab Khan that changed this match. Shadab picked his 52 up from 22 balls. Taking a toilet bowl 95/5 after 13 overs and making 185.

It was a day to remember for Shadab, who after scoring Pakistan’s second fastest T20 50, enjoyed his time with the ball as well.

He finished with 2/16 from two overs, his first over a match-turning one that saw him get Bavuma and Markram and concede just two runs – putting South Africa well ahead on DLS just before the rain came.

The Nawaz Nightmare

What if Mohammad Nawaz is having the most haunted World Cup ever? Four games in I don’t think I have ever seen so much bad luck happen to one guy.

Game one, India v Pakistan, you may of heard of this one. At first he gets smacked around everywhere, and so his captain has to hide him. But then that doesn’t work when at the end he needs to defend 16 from the last over. The plan is for him to do this bowling medium pace, which he last did in a serious way when he was 14. He bowls full tosses and wides, and loses the game off the last ball.

Then he plays Zimbabwe where he is not even expecting to bat. Pakistan collapse, he gets stuck at the wrong end for a while because of Mohammad Wasim swinging, but he gets the game to 3 needed from 3 balls. Only to play and miss at one, be dismissed by the other and then see Shaheen Afridi run out trying to tie the score.

And then today. Oh, this was something completely difference. Tabraiz Shamsi hits him on the pad and he is given out LBW. But he also runs, why, no one knows, but he runs while staring at the umpire and is run out. So he leaves the field, probably thinking that the run out stands. But it doesn’t. Because the ball was dead once he was struck on the pad in terms of the laws. So he couldn’t be run out, because he was LBW. Now he had stood around and asked any questions at all, he would have known this. Instead he left the field without reviewing his LBW, because he thought he was run out. Had he stayed, he would have been given not out, because he hit the arse off the ball.

Dude, your world cup is cursed.

South Africa bowling

South Africa and rain eh? Given their long sad history with rain and World Cups today wouldn’t probably even crack the top five.

In fact it’s not even the most it’s screwed them over in this one, but it certainly didn’t help.

South Africa’s bowlers had been their real strength this tournament, Bangladesh bowled out for 101, India restricted to just 133 – and almost much less had SKY not fired.

Things were going to plan today against Pakistan too, but then it started to rain. Not very heavily at first but still, bowling with a wet ball is never what a team wants to be doing.

Pakistan had just started to launch a bit of a fightback when the first drops of rain started to fall, but they were still only just past 100 and with five wickets down.

Then Shadab got going just as the rain started falling a little harder. Definitely not want you want when you’re trying to wrestle back control.

The effect of the rain was all too easy to see, bowlers struggled with their grip. The most eye-catching when Nortje fired down a waist high no ball that went for six – that over went for 18.

Nortje has bowled at an economy rate of 6.2 in the tournament so far, today it was over 10. I honestly thought it was dangerous he was bowling. Because I don’t think he could pitch the ball regularly, and at his pace, anything could happen.

The South Africans have been practising with wet balls, it’s a fairly common thing in cricket. It helps, but it doesn’t stop it being hard. And the fact they had to bowl for so long without a break meant the ball kept getting worse.

South Africa’s economy at the death so far in this tournament has been 8.9, today it was 13.

And that’s before we even get onto the fielding. The rain really started to fall in the 19th over, enough that the umpires had a big discussion about going off.

In the space of those final two overs, South Africa dropped 3 catches – Markram put down Shadab. Parnell put down Naseem Shah and then a ball later Haris Rauf was dropped too.

It honestly looked like one of those gameshows where amateurs are asked to do tasks just so they will fail and look bad. Every time the ball went up you expected them to drop it, and then have a bucket of slime fall on their heads.

Another entry in South Africa’s rain misery diary.

South Africa batting

Temba Bavuma batted extraordinarily well tonight. His third ball was a smashed pull from Shaheen Afridi. Haris Rauf went short at him again in the next over and he played a help it on your way pull shot. Then he delivers a short wide one but Bavuma gets under it and smacks a cut away for another boundary. A few overs later he shuffles across the stumps and gets under a ramp shot that flies for six. He has played some nice shots, but this is by far the best.

And then he has the spinners coming on. Temba Bavuma is one of the few players in the world who scores quicker from spin than pace. And of course he is out caught behind first ball from Shadab Khan. Markram was out two balls later, and the game was pretty much gone before the rain break.

36 off 19 balls might not end up being that much, but he was top score by a distance, and the only player who looked like hitting regular boundaries. And none of that makes sense. This was a pretty disappointing effort from South Africa all things considered. The rain might not have helped when they were bowling, but their batting was just poor.

Also, without David Miller, they always looked light. Hopefully he will be back in the next game.

Fake fielding

You may have seen this fake fielding story on social media.

But let’s start with, What is fake fielding?

MCC Laws

It’s when a fielder tries to distract, deceive or obstruct a batter wilfully. That is exactly what Virat Kohli did against Bangladesh. The ball came towards him and he willfully tries to deceive by action. Now, whether he did it to actually get a run out is doubtful, but that is not what the law says.

So why wasn’t the five run penalty given? Well this one is going to blow your mind. The umpire didn’t see it. The umpire is looking vaguely in this area, but we’re also way too far from him to see where his eyes really are, He should have seen it, and if he did, I would have expected it to be given.

But many people watched this match and didn’t see it. Even though it happened right in the middle of the frame. I didn’t put anything in the show yesterday. And I saw this ball, and Virat was right there centre of frame doing it and it never even occurred to me.

The problem at this point is so many people are Zapruder filming these games now, that they see something and then claim it was obvious.

The truth is if you watch these games that close, you will find that this sort of stuff happens all the time. Go to a T20 game and see how many times a fielder is outside the ring when the ball is bowled, which should be a no ball. Also how many times the keeper takes the ball in front of the stumps. Or how few back foot no balls are called. We have two umpires on the field, and some help from off field. There are millions of people watching these games now.

In fact, there were two moments of umpiring mistakes in today’s game.

The first one is an umpire starting to call a dead ball, probably because of the Spider-Cam and then stopping. It was a mistake, it should not have counted. It was even noticed by someone live on Twitter, and 20 minutes after they sent it to their 3000 followers it still had basically no interest.

Oh, I can go further, what aboutMohammad Wasim is coming in to bowl, and his towel is doing the watusi on his feet. Bavuma doesn’t see it, and neither does the umpire. And this towel was hopping.

I cannot stress how many times a game stuff like this happens. The difference with the big World Cup games is more people take notice and those stories become conspiracies.