Pakistan skipper Babar Azam blew it. Which captain in the universe would choose to give the last over in a T20 match to an inexperienced spinner rather than a fast bowler, when the side chasing a win is on the wrong side of the equation?
The match one refers to is the T20 clash between India and Pakistan at the MCG on Sunday [October 23].
[India needed 48 off the last three overs and then 16 off the last, after Pakistan made 159 in their 20 overs.]
Add to this the fact that the paceman, Rauf Haris, has plenty of experience in Australia, having played for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.
Also factor in that the batsmen at the crease included one Virat Kohli, among the best players of spin and no slouch when it comes to chasing a target.
Yet Babar, who had just five bowlers at his command, chose to give Haris the 19th over and the 20th to Muhammad Nawaz.
Reports about the match have focused on Kohli’s innings and for good reason: it was calm, measured and tactical. No mention has been made of Babar’s poor captaincy.
But then Kohli has played similar innings many times before this and won many matches for India off his own bat.
Had Babar kept Haris for the last over, the result may well have been different.
Wasted was all the effort that Pakistan put in to come back into the game after having lost two early wickets.
Wasted as well was the great start that Pakistan made when India went in to bat, claiming four early wickets.
Nawaz was a mass of nerves, sending down two wides plus a no-ball. The only thing he did not do was to be called for throwing.
One recalls the mistake made by Kapil Dev back in 1986 when he gave the last over during a one-day tie in Sharjah to Chetan Sharma, an apology for a fast bowler.
Javed Miandad needed a boundary off the last ball to take Pakistan to victory and clobbered Sharma’s full-toss over the boundary to cross the victory target.
Another instance of the wrong man being given the last over was in the 2016 T20 world cup final, when Ben Stokes was asked to bowl to Carlos Braithwaite, with the West Indies needing 19 to win.
The West Indies all-rounder promptly hit the first four deliveries over the boundary. Wonder if Babar Azam watched that game.