Umar Gul: a bowler on a rampage
After being humiliated in the recently concluded Test series, the T20 series gave Pakistan a chance to pay South Africans in their own coins. After the first T20I was washed out, all eyes were set at the SuperSport Park. It was one last chance for Pakistan to end the series on a high and create some winning momentum for the subsequent ODI series. And one man delivered – Umar Gul almost single-handedly led Pakistan to a win. All due respect to the heroic efforts of the MoM Mohammad Hafeez.
Gul went on a rampage at SuperSport Park, Centurion to hand Pakistan a commanding victory over South Africa in the 2nd T20I. South Africa imploded to their lowest ever T20I total and crashed to a 95-run defeat. It is time for us to revisit and appreciate Gul’s effort of 5 for 6 in just 2.2 overs.
The first victim was South African skipper Faf du Plessis. Gul bowled a good length delivery, though on a shorter side. The ball was in line with the off-stump and rose voraciously. du Plessis managed a fine nick to the keeper, who fumbled before clinging onto the ball. He provided a vital break-through to keep the South African batsmen in check.
Chris Morris was quick to follow in his captain’s footsteps. Gul bowled a similar first ball to Morris – a good length rising delivery moving towards the body of the batsman. Norris took a step away from the leg-stump and tried to heave the ball over cover, managing a thick outside edge, which flew straight to third man. Gul had two in two.
Gul wasn’t finished yet. Three balls later, Justin Ontong became his third victim of the over. A full delivery pitching on middle-stump struck the batsman as he tried to flick the ball towards the leg-side. The impact of the ball was on leg stump and the umpire had no hesitation in raising his finger. Gul toyed well with the batsman, following a volley of good length deliveries with a fuller delivery. Yet another first ball duck.
Umar Gul had found the groove. On the very first ball of his next over, he snared the wicket of Farhaan Behardien to make it 4 wickets off his previous 6 deliveries. Another length ball outside off stump and Behardien, facing his first ball slashed hard. Ahmed Shehzad did a Jonty Rhodes at point to send Behardien back. It was the third first ball-duck wicket for Gul. Interestingly, Gul found himself on the verge of pulling off a hat-trick twice within a space of six balls. This left the hosts tottering at 53/6, after once being 50/1 in 4.1 overs.
Hafeez sliced through the tail before failing to pull-off a hat-trick and finish things off for Pakistan. Gul returned for his second spell. A short ball going down the leg-side had the debutant Kyle Abbott in all sorts of trouble. Abbott only managed to top-edge the ball, giving Kamran Akmal a dolly. Gul picked up his 5th wicket to end SA’s misery.
Gul emulated his previous best efforts of 5 for 6 against New Zealand. His efforts, conjoined with Mohammad Hafeez’s, gives Pakistan confidence and momentum to perform to their strengths in the upcoming ODI series.