Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Abdul Razzaq - The Silent Assassin

Every now and then there is a phenomenon known as 'Razzaq' that takes world cricket by storm. On such an occasion all conventions and rule books are thrown out, miracles happen and opponents scratch heads.

The technique is brutally simple.

Clear front foot © AFP
Smash © AFP
The problem for opponents is it usually happens completely out of the blue, after a period of serene nothingness. You wouldn't even know he was there. Every time he strolls out, one always wonders, could today be a Razzaq day. Often its not, but here are six that were.

1. Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, 1999 (5 wickets for 31 runs)
Chasing 196, Sri Lanka were chugging along at 172-2 and not even the most optimistic fan would have given them a chance. In fact, nobody at all would have.

Enter Razzaq. Sri Lanka lost Arnold and Jayasuriya to make it 174-4, still no problem. Razzaq became their problem. He ripped through the lower order including three batmen clean blowled to bring up five wickets and blow Sri Lanka away for 196, a tied match. Eight wickets fell for 24 runs with our man the chief destroyer with five wickets in the match.

2. Pakistan vs New Zealand, 2003 (89 off 40 balls)
Setting Pakistan 308 in a dead rubber match, it was essentially curtains when Pakistan were at 5-171 after 37 overs. The equation, again in a match which means nothing, was 137 off the remaining 13 overs.

Enter Razzaq. Out of nowhere Razzaq begins to plunder every Black Cap that came at him using his inimitable methods. The required run rate became 13 an over. No problem. He carted 24 off this Andre Adams over.

Adams to Abdul Razzaq, 2 runs
Adams to Abdul Razzaq, FOUR
Adams to Abdul Razzaq, 2 runs
Adams to Abdul Razzaq, SIX
Adams to Abdul Razzaq, FOUR
Adams to Abdul Razzaq, SIX

Unfortunately (after Shoaib Akhtar ran himself out), Razzaq did fall and New Zealand got home, by a paltry four runs. Of the 132 they made after losing their seventh wicket, Razzaq hammered 89.

3. Pakistan vs England, 2006 (75 off 72 balls)
I didn't know it was possible, but Razzaq made the switch in the same innings. Pakistan lumbered along to 177-8 in the 47th over in a very ho-hum affair. England were probably already thinking about dinner after knocking off what would be a sub 200 score.

Enter Razzaq. He was already there, quietly accumulating 30 from 56 balls. Then the fun started.4-0-4-0-1-0-6-6-4-1-1-6-6 were what his remaining shots off the bat read. Pakistan crashed 57 off the last three overs, and Razzaq was responsible for 45 of those. Oh what fun.

4. Pakistan vs England, 2010 (44 off 20 balls)
Deja vu for England. At 223-7 after 48 overs, it was again an innings which was going nowhere. Razzaq was on 4 off 10 balls and looking completely innocuous.

Enter Razzaq. Then he opened up, more a flash flood than a cyclone. His remaining scoring shots were 4-4-6-4-2-4-4-4-4-4, a sequence which didn't have a single dot ball. Thats 40 off 10 deliveries, and suddenly Pakistan had 265. For once the team backed up Razzaq and won the match.

5. Pakistan vs South Africa, 2010 (109 off 72 balls)
Pakistan were chasing 286 when they lost Afridi to his inevitable "the inexplicably poor shot". At five down in the 30th over with not even half the runs, and a grinding Fawad Alam for company, Pakistan needed something more than a blitz, they needed a *long* blitz.

Enter Razzaq. The greatest Razzaq innings, down to the fact that he actually built his innings. Razzaq demonstrating amazingly he has a gear between 1st and 6th, initially bringing up a quiet 56 off 51 balls. He lost Alam with Pakistan needing 53 runs off the last four overs, and so top gear came with the white ball flying around Razzaq style. He smashed three sixes off a single Langeveldt over. His biggest enemy was his moronic team mates, determined to run themselves out and leave this innings in vain. With 14 needed off the last over, and 9 wickets down...

JA Morkel to Abdul Razzaq, no run, and he hits the crease, down the leg side, cramping him up, going through his legs
JA Morkel to Abdul Razzaq, SIX, smokinnnn! Razzaq on 99! What is he up to here? Low full toss, misses the length by inches, and smacks it over midwicket, into the grass banks. They are dancing out there. Razzaq is playing a beauty
JA Morkel to Abdul Razzaq, SIX, Razzaq! Beaut! Poor delivery. On a length, in Razzaq's arc. He gets under it, goes over midwicket. Gets to 105. Botha is on the rope. Watches it sail over his head. Shine On You Crazy Diamond
JA Morkel to Abdul Razzaq, no run, short and wide, Razzaq wants to finish it off, misses the cut. AB and Albie appeal big time, but I don't see any connection there
JA Morkel to Abdul Razzaq, FOUR, Abdul. Razzaq. Sir, you have played a gem! Full ball outside off, when the leg side is heavily populated, and he crashes it through the field. Four runs! Game over. He emotes for the first time. Exults. He throws his bat, and then pumps fists. looks towards the dressing room. They are all celebrating. Shoaib picks up his bat. Hugs him. One by one all come out. Afridi. Waqar. All have one man to thank tonight

Crazy diamond indeed. © AFP

Abdul Razzaq. My tribute to the ninja of cricket.

No comments:

Post a Comment