3:20 p.m. And that's it, as they squeeze a single from a Gullee yorker. As I said, we were about 20-30 runs light. But we'll see them again, real soon, and we won't forget. On that note, it's goodbye from me, and a big thank you to those who read and commented on our coverage. Now, I prepare to pay $1000 to have my data recovered.
3:18 p.m. Credit NZ a great deal here. Half their team is injured, we've been their bogey team for the longest while, and they win here easily. Kudos. I'd rather lose to them then Oz, India, or England.
3:16 p.m. Ajmal gets Vettori, who wanted to finish it in one hit. Stumped, which somehow Akmal didn't mess up. Broom in. Think he'll sweep Ajmal? Hahahahahhahahahaha.
3:14 p.m. I'll take this loss, if we learn our lessons. First, the batting powerplay needs to be taken at some point when you have two set batsmen getting ready to launch, not in the last 5 overs necessarily. Second, Rana is crap. He disappoints more than he rewards. He'll have the odd good spell (as against Oz) but in general, it's criminal having him in the team over a guy like Asif, purportedly for his batting (which sucks). Third, our fielding -- as always -- has to improve. But overall, I'm happy. This is still a young team, in transition, and Younis has done an admirable job in leading them.
3:13 p.m. Ajmal back in, to help deliver the last rites.
3:11 p.m. 12 from 24. This partnership is almost a hundred, by the way.
3:09 p.m. I'll tell you when we lost this game: overs 35-45 in our innings. We threw away our wickets, and Umar Akmal got a shit decision. We were about 20 runs light. And it's showing now. 13 from 26. NZ have played this perfectly, to be fair. They didn't panic when Aamer and our spinners tightened the noose. They played for the powerplay, and took toll when they needed to. Pakistan remain the only main side in international cricket to never play a CT final, which is a curious record in its own right.
3:09 p.m. And a six over midwicket. How badly can you bowl? Just length bowling from Gullee.
3:08 p.m. Four more, over mid on. You'd think Gullee might bowl a yorker at some point, no?
3:07 p.m. Rubbish bowling. Full, half volley, four. Creamed through the covers by Elliot. This game is over. At least we beat India.
3:07 p.m. Yeah, it's Gullee. Let's see what he does from this position.
3:05 p.m. 14 off the over. 28 needed from 30. Gullee, presumably, from the other end.
3:04 p.m. Kya huwa, Rana? No more no-balls? Come on yaar! I was just beginning to enjoy them. Choot.
3:02 p.m. I'm not going to comment on Rana's bullshit bowling anymore. I'll just tell you the score at the end of the over.
3:02 p.m. Hahahah. Another no-ball. Thanks Rana. Thanks so much.
3:01 p.m. Slower ball gets past Elliot. If anyone's going to win this for us, it'll be Elliot.
3:00 p.m. So that's six runs off one legal delivery in this over. 36 from 35. They're home bhai.
3:00 p.m. No ball, four, over long on. Ah, Rana. What a massive dick you are.
2:59 p.m. Rana back in.
2:58 p.m. Single to finish, 42 off 36. Aamer finishes with 1-32 in ten overs. What a guy. It's up to Rana and Gullee now, because I don't think Ajmal is going to be bowled in the power play after that last over.
2:57 p.m. And another. 43 off 37.
2:57 p.m. Aamer gets it past him. 43 off 38. Sigh.
2:56 p.m. And Vettori smashes Aamer down the ground for four. He's played a winning hand here, Vettori.
2:55 p.m. A single brings up Elliot's slow-ass fifty. By the way, David Lloyd is bemused that Aamer is bowling without a deep fine leg, or without a deep third man. He regularly did this in T20, though, so that particular bit shouldn't be a big deal.
2:54 p.m. A single to start. 48 from 41. Need Vettori, like right now. I mean, RIGHT NOW.
2:53 p.m. Aamer from the other end, to bowl his last over. 1-25 in nine so far.
2:51 p.m. And a boundary, plus a single to finish. NZ and Vettori could have played this perfectly, you know. 49 from 42. They're very much ahead now. By the way, Barca pulled out a 1-0 which really should have 4-0. But anyway.
2:50 p.m. Two to deep midwicket. "His intentions were there," confirms David Lloyd. Four from three this over.
2:49 p.m. A single to start. If anyone targets him, it'll be Vettori, who's now on strike.
2:48 p.m. And to further add to this period's importance, NZ have taken the power play. Only three outside the circle, remember. I am strangely serene about this -- I just trust Ajmal. Will I regret that sentence?
2:47 p.m. Nope, Ajmal's back. This is it, kids.
2:46 p.m. Five off the over, including a bullshit wide call and a bullshit non-LBW. 59 needed from 48. Business end, folks. Malik to continue?
2:45 p.m. 61 from 50, by the way, as they scamper another single.
2:44 p.m. ANOTHER close LBW shout not given. Full, straight, and dead-on. I can only presume Taufel has taken copious amounts of bribes.
2:44 p.m. Vettori drives it hard into the ground, and Aamer keeps it quiet. Dot.
2:43 p.m. How is that a wide? Legitimate bouncer, in my view. Another bullshit call.
2:42 p.m. Aamer to bowl his ninth over. And a dot to start, as Vettori struggles to improvise. Beautiful bowling from Aamer, just keeping it steady. 64 from 53.
2:42 p.m. And another single. 64 needed from nine overs. If we somehow win this game, remember this tight little three over spell from Malik.
2:41 p.m. A single off the fifth. 65 from 55.
2:40 p.m. Two more. Malik bowling really well here, and Elliot is digging himself a hole.
2:40 p.m. Malik continues. Two dots to start, plus a close LBW shout.
2:38 p.m. And they're saved from a suicidal run by Umar's curious decision to go for the striker's end from mid-on. Three from, 66 needed from 60.
2:38 p.m. Vettori gets a single. Harsha thinks they might be leaving too much to the power play. Not really. Can't say that yet, anyway.
2:37 p.m. In any event, one off the first four.
2:37 p.m. That was just spooned to short cover. I don't know how he dropped that, I really don't. Sigh.
2:36 p.m. You just dropped the cup, son. Younis drops a dolly from Elliot. "How do you drop that?" asks Harsha. I have no fucking idea.
2:35 p.m. Aamer replaces Afridi. Key little passage here. When's Ajmal coming back?
2:34 p.m. Just the three from the over. Nice little two over spell from Malik here. 69 needed from 66. Tight.
2:33 p.m. Tidy. Very tidy. 1 off 4 so far.
2:32 p.m. Because of Malik's two overs, it's clear that Rana won't have to bowl out.
2:32 p.m. Malik continuing, two dots to Elliot to start.
2:31 p.m. And that's the end of Afridi's spell. Decent figures, but I would posit that he's bowled better, much better, recently.
2:30 p.m. Back to a run a ball, by the way. 73 off 73.
2:29 p.m. Aarggh. Elliot hits Afridi over cover for four. Damnitt. Dot to follow.
2:29 p.m. Afridi bowling his last over here. A single to start, from Vettori.
2:28 p.m. On target, with just the four off. 80 needed from 78. They still have the power play, remember.
2:26 p.m. Hey, Harsha. Younis and Afridi would speak Pushto to each other, if they weren't speaking Urdu, not Punjabi.
2:26 p.m. Gullee. Interesting move.
2:24 p.m. And four off the over, brings the required rate to exactly six: 84 needed from 84 balls. Well, then.
2:22 p.m. That was out. Bullshit. Fucking bullshit. Afridi gets Elliot LBW, but Taufel doesn't agree. Bullshit call. Remember that one, combined with Umar's decision. Anyway, three off the first three to start.
2:21 p.m. And a single to finish, with four off the over. 88 from 90. Anyone's game, though as always, NZ are just barely in front.
2:20 p.m. Arrrgh. Gullee slips his line down the leg side, and is worked to the leg side for two. The gap is back up to two.
2:19 p.m. One more, as Gullee keeps Elliot tied down. The gap is one, 91 from 92.
2:18 p.m. Another dot. The gap is two.
2:18 p.m. A single to deep cover. Elliot back on strike.
2:17 p.m. Gullee right back on target. The gap is three.
2:15 p.m. Dropped! Malik drops a toughie, as Elliot cuts Afridi and Malik barely gets a hand to it. But if you're one of those that say a hand to it means it's a drop, then it's a drop. Five from the over. The balls-runs game is down to four: 92 needed from 96.
2:13 p.m. And crazy Imran keeps it to a good over with some smart work at backward point. Just the one off, a good comeback from Gullee. 137-4 in 33. 97 needed from 102.
2:13 p.m. Four straight dot balls. The runs-balls gap shrinks by four, to six.
2:11 p.m. Another dot, straight and good length. Even though this Elliot chap has been batting for a while, I don't think he would inspire much confidence in NZ fans. Slip in now too.
2:11 p.m. Oooh. Beats Elliot outside off.
2:10 p.m. And Gullee's back. Let's smoke these buggers out, Gullee. Come on. Single from Vettori to start. No worries, since I prefer Gullee to bowl to right-handers anyway.
2:06 p.m. Hahaha. Wilko literally tells Simon Doull to calm down. Anyway, four off Afridi's over. 98 more from 108. Keep an eye on that balls-runs gap. It was 12 last over, it's 10 now. Another wicket here would do nicely, thanks. Come on, Younis. Don't let Rana cost us this match. Bring on Gullee, or even Aamer, for a quick two-over burst.
2:06 p.m. "Every run feels like a new page in a book." Pretty boring fucking library you must have, Wilko.
2:04 p.m. Six off it. Rana has been quite crap all day. I mean, that wasn't a bad over, but we need better. Gullee back in, methinks. The equation now is 102 runs off 114 balls.
2:01 p.m. And a no-ball from Rana, after a couple of singles. Delightful.
1:59 p.m. Shut up, Simon Doull. Just stop talking. You're really starting to annoy me.
1:58 p.m. Vettori in.
1:56 p.m. SHER AFRIDI! You fucking beauty! What a time for a wicket. The ball after being deposited out of the ground, Afridi bowls dangerman Taylor with a quicker one that goes straight one. Why, exactly, he was trying to cut Afridi is beyond me, but I won't complain. Every time NZ get slightly ahead of us in this game, we get a wicket to stay within range. They're still the favorites, to be sure, but we haven't let go yet. 126-4 in 29.5 overs.
1:54 p.m. Yikes. Short, six, and literally out of the ground. As I said, Afridi hasn't been at his best today. Bring Gullee back in from this end.
1:53 p.m. Afridi continuing. Remember my earlier target, where I wanted them no more than 120 in 30 overs? Well, that's exactly where they are.
1:52 p.m. Nice and straight from Rana, and just the three off. 116 needed off 21 overs. 5.52 is the required rate.
1:51 p.m. I think Simon Doull just very quietly and very implicitly accused us of ball tampering. What is with these guys?
1:49 p.m. Ooooh. Very close. Rana gets a reverse swinging yorker, but he got some bat on it. Well, at least it's going. Bring Gullee on from Afridi's end?
1:48 p.m. Four, including a wide, off the over. They're more comfortable now than they were half an hour ago, no doubt. 115-3 in 28.
1:45 p.m. Yousuf throws not like a girl, but a girl who's 85 years old and dying of fourteen different diseases. Two to long, and a single to end make it five for the over. 111-3 in 27. Need a wicket, as Afridi carries on.
1:42 p.m. I just feel that sides like NZ and SA are fundamentally uncomfortable against spin. They might have individual players who can bat well against spin, but I always feel like they'll give you a chance. Maybe he wanted to reserve Ajmal for later, but I don't know...just a funny sort of time to take off your best bowler on the day for your worst bowler on the day.
1:42 p.m. Rana replacing Ajmal. I don't know if I like that move. Let's see.
1:41 p.m. Rate required has inched up to 5.33.
1:39 p.m. Afridi has been off his best here. Not bowling badly by any stretch, but he seems a little rushed. What has been most heartening about his bowling in the last couple of years is that he takes his time more, and slows it down. He's bowling a touch quicker here, almost going back to his early days. But no matter, because there's only two off the over. 106-3 in 26.
1:38 p.m. Seven off, 104-3 in 25. We need another wicket here, and soon. Remember, they still have their power play too.
1:37 p.m. Pressure release, that. Taylor slog sweeps Ajmal for six. They needed that. We didn't. Come on, guys, new period of pressure starting now.
1:35 p.m. Two dots to finish, so it ends up a good over. 97-3 in 24. The Afridi-Ajmal partnership in the middle overs is so valuable for us, it's not funny. Things really slowing down here. Rate required push to 5.25. Watch that number.
1:34 p.m. Afridi just a touch short in this over. Three singles in four balls.
1:33 p.m. Four off Ajmal's over, taking them to 94-3 in 23. Afridi to continue. Tight game, this.
1:32 p.m. Yeah, Pedro! 1-0, Barca. That was a long time coming. Knock, knock, knock, bash.
1:31 p.m. I'd really like to see a short leg (even more than slip) for Ajmal, with the turn he's getting. Plus, these guys are playing him right in front of their pad.
1:30 p.m. Just a single off the over. 90-3 in 22.
1:29 p.m. Four dot balls from Afridi. "Screws are just tightening," says Bish. Yup.
1:27 p.m. Ooooh, Ajmal almost gets another leading edge with the doosra. Anyway, two off, and it's 89-3 after 21. Remember, our mini target should be 120-4 (or something similar) at the 30 over mark. Keep that in mind.
1:26 p.m. YOUNIS, BHAI MEREY, POINT! POINT! POINT FOR AJMAL!
1:24 p.m. I've never seen a guy tripped as many times in the box without getting a penalty as Messi. It happens almost every third game. It's ridiculous. I mean, that was stonewall stuff. Anyway, four off the over. 87-3 after twenty. Rate required is basically five. Just pushhhh that up, slowly but surely. We don't want them to be too much further than 120 at the 30 over mark.
1:22 p.m. Afridi in, replacing Gullee.
1:21 p.m. Four easy singles for NZ. 83-3 after 19. I don't understand something here. NZ are batting only one way: dropping it and running. They're not looking to hit out. So shouldn't you force them to do something other than what they seem comfortable doing? Am I crazy here?
1:20 p.m. Yaar, Younis, khuda key wastey, put a point in for Ajmal. Please.
1:19 p.m. Ajmal is making these guys look very stupid. He's turning it square. Close LBW shout. "That looked out to me," Waz pleads. Relax yaar.
1:17 p.m. Gullee has been expensive, without bowling too badly. Seven off it, and it's 79-3 after 18. 155 needed from 32.
1:16 p.m. Dude. TAKE. A. STEP. IN. That's another single.
1:15 p.m. And yet another cheeky single in the circle. How many times? For fuck's sake guys. Take a step in. They're not exactly smacking it to all parts, are they?
1:14 p.m. Yorker, wide. Elliot had given himself room, and ended up leaving it, giving David Lloyd occasion to chuckle to himself.
1:12 p.m. Gullee to continue. "New Zealand's batting looks very thin at the moment," Wilko says discouragingly (for them). As soon as he says it, Gullee bowls a no-ball, which also goes for four. Nice, Gullee (though the replay suggests a bullshit call). Taufel's had a bad day.
1:11 p.m. Beautiful over. Three runs and a wicket. 72-3 after 17.
1:11 p.m. Oooh. Elliot just got outside the line there. Close, first up.
1:10 p.m. Elliot in.
1:08 p.m. GONE! Don't let anyone tell you that was a "soft" dismissal. Redmond is defeated in flight, and scoops a catch back to Ajmal. What a bowler. It's nothing overwhelming from Ajmal, just slight tweaks and turns in the trajectory of the ball. Again, a timely wicket. 71-3 after 16.4
1:08 p.m. Alright, Younis. I think it's time for a point for Ajmal.
1:07 p.m. This is getting ridiculous. They're playing defensive shots and getting runs. Regularly.
1:06 p.m. And now two byes. Good going Akmal. Five from the over, when really it should've been one. 69-2 after sixteen. Rate required is 4.8 something. Need Ajmal and Afridi to push that up to the 5.3/5.4 region, and see if they panic.
1:05 p.m. And another. That was even most egregious, this time to mid-on.
1:04 p.m. Our fielding in the circle has been shite. They've taken about 4 singles which shouldn't have been conceded.
1:01 p.m. Ball change. Preceded by a long chat between umpires. Ball tampering? I'm only half joking, you know.
1:00 p.m. Xavi starting again. Dude hasn't had a rest the whole season. Neither, for that matter, has Ibra. Pedro in place of the injured Henry, Maxwell in for Abidal. Pique gets a rest, and Marquez gets a start.
12:57 p.m. Three from the over, and a half-chance. 64-2 after fifteen. Even stevens at present, with perhaps -- perhaps -- NZ just in front.
12:56 p.m. Ooooh. Redmond slashes Ajmal to deep cover, where Crazy Imran doesn't go for a dying catch. Younis is pissed, because he asked Crazy Imran to come in further.
12:55 p.m. Beautifully bowled. Just varying it, nice and subtle. Three dots to start.
12:54 p.m. Nope. Ajmal in. This will be interesting. I reckon NZ will absolutely no idea of how to play him.
12:52 p.m. Seven off, 61-2 after fourteen. Need another wicket soonish, I think. Aamer for one more?
12:51 p.m. Gullee goes for the yorker, but it overpitches, and it's worked for four to fine leg. Fair attempt. And some swing there too. Now, with Pakistan, the question has to be asked: it's the 14th over, so is it regular swing or reverse swing? That ducked in late, suggesting it was reverse. Will this make Vettori cry again? (Re: his bitching after the T20 shellacking)
12:50 p.m. Gullee also working up some pace, high 80s here.
12:50 p.m. Tap-and-run. Ugh.
12:49 p.m. And Sunderland are back up! At Old Trafford, no less. 2-1. Come on, Sunderland!
12:47 p.m. Hahahah. Aamer appeals so hard he falls down. Pitched outside leg, so not out. Maiden over though, as he continues his good run. Would Younis give him another, given that Rana, Ajmal and Gullee can bowl at the death? It's 54-2 after 13, by the way.
12:45 p.m. Aamer truly excites me. I mean, really. How good can he possible get in four or five years, as he grows into his body, and learns more about the art and science of bowling? I mean, he's slipped into international cricket seamlessly. It's been a joy to watch the birth of this young man's career.
12:43 p.m. Aamer to continue. His seventh over. Hmmm. Anyway, I've decided spin triplets doesn't have the same ring to it. So it's spin twins+Malik from now on.
12:42 p.m. Good ball to finish, though somehow NZ got five off the over. 54-2 after twelve. When do we bring the spin twins, or counting Malik, the spin triplets in?
12:41 p.m. Goddamnitt. United just equalized. Bicycle kick from Berbatov.
12:38 p.m. Redmond Sehwags Gullee, and it goes just wide off third man. Matter of a couple feet there.
12:38 p.m. People with free streams should please help their fellow readers in the comments section to this post, thanks.
12:36 p.m. And we're back. 49-2 after eleven. Aamer has bowled six, so might be taken off now. 185 needed in 39.
12:35 p.m. My stream's gone.
12:32 p.m. Back to the cricket, and Gullee keeping it tight. My stream is suddenly acting funny.
12:30 p.m. By the way, United are a goal down to Sunderland at halftime. Hahahaha. Stupid United. Barca are on in half an hour. Great toggling skills will have to be employed.
12:27 p.m. YEAH!!! Guptill tries to pull/swivel Gullee, but he edges it, it goes straight up, and an easy catch to Rana at mid-on. Timely wicket there. We can't go too many overs without getting one, unfortunately. 43-2 in 9.1, and we're back on even terms. Taylor in.
12:26 p.m. And he does. Come on, Gullee. Discipline now. No no-balls.
12:25 p.m. That last exchange really pissed me off. Fuck Simon Doull. Anyway, it's 43-1 after nine. I really hope Rana gives way to Gullee at the other end.
12:24 p.m. Oooooh. Redmond hit smack in front, but that pitched outside leg. Simon Doull goes off on the fact that Aamer appealed. Fuck you, asshole. Vettori appealed when Umar Akmal hit his pad off the middle of the bat. What did you say then? Dickhead.
12:23 p.m. Aamer follows with a leg-cutter and beats him. Good bowling.
12:22 p.m. Redmond finally connects against Aamer, and it's four through the covers. He'd played that shot about 14 times already, and finally hit it. Congrats dude.
12:21 p.m. Ten off, 39-1 after eight. Again, two games here. Aamer vs NZ is going our way, Rana vs NZ is obviously going their's.
12:20 p.m. Another slower ball. It's so predictable, as was the result (four through the covers). Oh, Rana. How do I loathe you.
12:19 p.m. This Guptill chap looks really solid. Very correct.
12:18 p.m. Guptill just casually picks up Rana for six over midwicket. A pull off the front foot, if it can be called that. I can't emphasize how much I hate Rana.
12:16 p.m. This Redmond chap looks a prime candidate to glove one, the way he leaves it. He hasn't scored off Aamer for 16 balls, by the way. And that's the over, 29-1 after seven.
12:15 p.m. Come on, Aamer. We need one more, right here.
12:12 p.m. Two more slower balls from Rana in that over, which ends with NZ at 28-1. Someone should tell him it's meant to be a variation, not a stock delivery. He's got the Danish Kaneria problem, Rana. He doesn't trust his stock delivery to do the job, so he tries all sorts of crap, that ends up being non-threatening because he tries it too much. Anyway, Aamer to continue.
12:10 p.m. Or so I thought. Redmond smacks Rana over the covers. Looked too easy, really.
12:09 p.m. That wicket was huge for Rana too. It allows him to settle.
12:08 p.m. Great over. Wicket maiden, and NZ are 22-1 in five. Put differently, they're 4-1 in the last three.
12:07 p.m. Perilously close to an outside edge there. Aamer cranking it up.
12:06 p.m. Aamer running in now. Getting up to 90mph.
12:05 p.m. I should probably try to describe it. McCullm tried to smack a good length ball from Aamer, it went straight up, and Afridi had to run back from cover and he took it safely. 22-1, and the dangerman is gone. Guptill in.
12:05 p.m. That was uncanny. Wow. I don't believe that happened.
12:04 p.m. Yes it will! Ahsan, you beauty! Wow, I'm so impressed with myself with that one. Wow. Also, good ball from Aamer and excellent catch from Afridi. But no doubt about it: that was my wicket.
12:03 p.m. Aamer's got a good rhythm going now. Will it be enough to get us a wicket?
12:02 p.m. Hindsight question: wouldn't you rather have Asif than either Gullee or Rana right now?
12:01 p.m. I told you he'd overdo it. Another slower one, which McCullum read like a nursery rhyme.
11:59 a.m. Ooooh. Rana bowls a slower one, and McCullum almost gives a catch straight to Younis at midoff. Smart there, but now watch him overdo it. Idiot Rana.
11:57 a.m. Well bowled, Aamer. Good over. 19-0 after three.
11:56 a.m. Some nice shape in there from Aamer. Decent pace too.
11:55 a.m. NZ are playing like they want to end this in 30 overs. Sound strategy, because you don't want to leave it to the end. Anything can happen, so why not capitalize when the field's up and the ball is nice and hard?
11:54 a.m. Now friggin Redmond gets into the act. Works Rana off his pads for four behind square. Idiot Rana. 18-0 after two overs.
11:52 a.m. Rubbish from Rana. Four more. At least if it's over quickly, I can get back to worrying about my entire research career.
11:50 a.m. We're screwed. Just give up. Go home. Pack your bags. Challo, bhaiyon, challo.
11:50 a.m. And we're back. 7-0 after one over, as apparently McCullum deposited Aamer over square leg for six. Good times. And Rana starts down the legside, for two more.
11:47 a.m. For some reason, my stream is showing a replay of the SA-Eng match. WTF?
11:15 a.m. Yorker, single. So we end up on 233-9, a decent total helped by an excellent and sensible last wicket stand, but one that shouldn't challenge a good batting performance. "A fighting chance" is what Bish thinks we have, and I tend to agree. Join me in half an hour for the NZ innings.
11:14 a.m. Single to mid off. Aamer to face the last ball.
11:14 a.m. Uffff! Ajmal pulls a Dilshan, as Wilko calls it, by stepping inside it, and lifting it over short fine. Four, and we're over 230.
11:13 a.m. And another. What's funnier, Louis C.K.'s stand up, or Ajmal swinging like crazy?
11:12 a.m. Ungainly swing and a miss.
11:12 a.m. Should've been a wide. Not called. Bloody Ian Gould.
11:10 a.m. Two more. And a single to finish, giving nine for the over. 227-9. I tell you what this last stand does so: it might not make the total itself competitive, but it will make our bowlers (particularly Aamer) feel good about themselves when they go out there. Might that be worth 10 or 20 runs itself? Or am I reaching here?
11:10 a.m. Relax, Indians. That was a joke.
11:09 a.m. My goodness. Ajmal works Bond off his hips, and replays show that it was four, despite a good effort from Butler at the boundary. Shades of Tendulkar there.
11:08 a.m. Aamer slashes Bond to third man for one. The partnership, by the way, is 22. For shame, Gulle, Rana and Afridi. For shame.
11:07 a.m. Hahaha. Ajmal takes off for a suicidal run, but somehow mid-on misses.
11:05 a.m. After Vettori says something to Aamer, he remains unfazed and drives Mills for four through the covers, despite mid-off getting a hand to it. 218-9 with two overs to go. We really should open with this guy. He can get the new ball too, in essence be our Manoj Prabhakar, except with talent.
11:04 a.m. Well, that took off. Aamer backs away, but it just takes off from a length.
11:02 a.m. A comment on the worst batsmen thing. A reader reminded me of Walsh. My bad. Revised order: early Walsh, middle Walsh, late Walsh, early McGrath, Ajmal, Donald.
11:02 a.m. Mills back in.
11:01 a.m. And one more, as Aamer pulls a short one. Fucking open with this guy, and bring Asif in for Crazy Imran. That should be our team. Anyway, 213-9 in 47.
11:00 a.m. And now a wide. 209-9 in the 47th over. Wilko and Bish keep talking about the Oz match, where we had a similar score. This is a belter of a pitch, gents. It's like batting on concrete.
10:59 a.m. Or that. Backs away, and smashes Bond through the covers. Four more.
10:58 a.m. Aamer cuts Bond handsomely for four. I really like Aamer, man. He tries hard and he has great heart. Can't put a price on that.
10:56 a.m. Worst batsmen I've ever seen: Early McGrath, Ajmal, Donald, in that order.
10:55 a.m. Bish getting impassioned here. Calm down yaar. It's not your team that fucked itself over a laborious three hours.
10:53 a.m. What if Aamer spreads carnage to all parts, with a 31-ball 53? What if?
10:52 a.m. Vettori bowled well, but didn't deserve 3-43 in 10. I mean, come ON.
10:51 a.m. "It's not been smart batting, to be honest." Thanks, Bish. Very astute observation there.
10:51 a.m. What if Ajmal blazes, I mean blazes a 23-ball 48? What if?
10:50 a.m. 198-9. I mean, I've run out of words to describe this batting performance.
10:49 a.m. Hahahahahah. Idiot. Slog sweeps, edges, and is out. Hahahahhahahaha.
10:48 a.m. Well, then. Rana dances down, and smashes Vettori for six.
10:48 a.m. Sarcastic applause (from me), as Younis finally takes the power play.
10:47 a.m. Dude's taken more than two wickets in an ODI twice in his life, and both times five years ago. Pakistan: we're your career best.
10:46 a.m. We've given Butler four wickets. Think about that for a second.
10:45 a.m. Aamer in.
10:44 a.m. Gullee slashes Butler for four over slip, before skying one to point. Four and a wicket, sort of sums up our day, doesn't it? 192-8 in 43.3
10:42 a.m. One run off Vettori's over. Who can you blame? Certainly not Rana and Gullee, not by any stretch. It's not their job to score runs in the 43rd over.
10:42 a.m. Ugh.
10:40 a.m. 187-7. Eight overs to go.
10:39 a.m. This is pitiful to watch. When David Lloyd starts telling us that Rana Naveed is our best hope, we're truly fucked.
10:36 a.m. Gullee in. Even our bowling can't defend this bullshit total. As always, the batting lets us down, and the captaincy too. Younis should've taken the power play when Umar and Yousuf were just beginning to get going, around the 35-36 over mark.
10:35 a.m. And he's gone. Edging it, trying to run it down. Wow. What a soft dismissal that was. 183-7 in 41.2. This game is over.
10:34 a.m. Afridi hoiks it to midwicket for two. Younis really needs to take the power play now. We don't want Gullee and Aamer batting when it's on.
10:33 a.m. From Simon Taufel too, who's usually excellent. I mean, we all make mistakes, which is exactly why we need the referral system. Anyway, that's that. Umar made 55 off 62, by the way, while all around him guys struggled mightily.
10:31 a.m. Arrrggghhh! Umar gets a terrible decision, edges on to his pads and is given out LBW. That decision could cost us the match. This is why you need the appeal system in cricket. I mean, that could literally turn the game. He was our best player, and he was just hitting his stride, and most importantly, he was NOT OUT! I mean, come on.
10:30 a.m. Bang! Umar dances down, and inside-outs Vettori over cover for four. Combined with three singles from the first three balls, and it's a good over.
10:29 a.m. Ufff. Afridi knocks his first ball, from Vettori, into the gap on the legside for one.
10:27 a.m. And now he works it off his pads for two, bringing up his fifty. You know how I said earlier that there were two games, Bond vs Pak and Everyone Else vs Pak? Well, since there have also been two games, Umar vs NZ and Everyone Else vs NZ. He's just looked more at ease than everyone else. Nine off, and we're 174-5 after 40.
10:25 a.m. Bang! Umar punches it for four to the mid-off fence. What a guy.
10:25 a.m. This delicate late cut Umar plays against pace is gorgeous to watch. Two more.
10:23 a.m. Come on Boom Boom. Live up to your moniker, just this one time. Anyway, we're 166-5 after 39. Simple fact: we need a hundred off the last eleven.
10:22 a.m. Ugh. Yousuf plays on to Mills, trying to run it down. Is that good or bad? Yousuf had upped the ante, but he was still only on 45 off 78. Afridi in.
10:20 a.m. Aha. Yousuf just pushes off his legs wide off mid on for four. Definitely a surge here in the last couple of overs. You can feel the intensity rising out in the middle.
10:18 a.m. Good running and placement gets us nine from the over. 160-4 after 38.
10:15 a.m. Yousuf flays Bond over fly slip for four. Could this finally, finally be the momentum shifter?
10:11 a.m. Neither of these guys are clearing out. Maybe they're reading the pitch differently, and think 230 is enough. If so, they're insane.
10:08 a.m. 146-4 after 36.
10:06 a.m. Little glide to third man. Four. If anyone's going to save this game for us, it's Umar.
10:06 a.m. Poking, prodding, playing-and-missing. We've lost this game. And frankly, I don't care.
10:03 a.m. So my head is spinning right now.
10:01 a.m. Sorry, I went away. My data recovery will cost between 600 and 1600 dollars, according to Best Buy.
9:52 a.m. Yousuf's running has been all over the place. Almost runs himself out again. A single to end, and just the three off. Sigh. 133-4 after 33. Need 260-270, but it looks a long, long way away right now, and there's not a great deal of batting left.
9:51 a.m. Tap-and-run brings Yousuf to strike. Another single, and Umar back on.
9:49 a.m. Elliot replaces Vettori. Need to target him. The batsmen are relatively set, the field spread, the bowler's cold, and it's the 33rd over. Not saying tee off, but at least put pressure on him with the odd boundary and aggressive running.
9:48 a.m. Whaaa? I thought I heard a nick there, as Umar tried to run it down to third man. I could've sworn I heard something. But no appeal, and the replays suggest I'm hallucinating. 130-4 after 32. Need a push here, gentlemen. Power play, perhaps?
9:46 a.m. Yousuf struggling to hit the gaps here. Come on Yousuf. Don't make Umar do everything. Do your part man.
9:45 a.m. Butler back in to replace Mills.
9:44 a.m. By the way, Umar has now overtaken Yousuf, 26 to 24. Anyway, ten from the over. 128-4 after 31.
9:42 a.m Umar smashes Vettori backward of point for two consecutive fours. He has it all, Umar. Very versatile. What a talent he is. Just stay calm now, kid. You have twenty more overs here.
9:41 a.m. If we get to 250 from here, we would have done well. Don't think that would be enough on this excellent batting pitch, but we'll see.
9:39 a.m. Sorry guys, the computer got unplugged. We're 118-4 in 29 and a bit overs.
9:29 a.m. Mills replaces Franklin.
9:29 a.m. Another maiden. Yousuf has played 25 Vettori deliveries. He has scored two runs. 107-4 after 27.
9:28 a.m. And we're back. Missed three dot balls.
9:27 a.m. My feed has stopped. Shit.
9:26 a.m. Five from Yousuf in the over, and it's 107-4 after 26. Some mini-momentum for us here, which figures to be extinguished as Yousuf faces up to Vettori.
9:23 a.m. Aha. Yousuf just caresses Franklin between midoff and cover. So elegant.
9:21 a.m. A tennis forehand masquerading as a slog sweep goes for four, as Umar goes on the attack. The next ball is heart-in-the-mouth stuff, as a cut loops up, just beyond short third, and runs away for four. 102-4 after 25. Say this for Umar: he's not batting scared. He doesn't give a fuck.
9:21 a.m. Credit where credit is due: Vettori is bowling magnificently here. His variations are just awesome.
9:20 a.m. Umar is decidedly less afraid of Vettori than Yousuf. Paddle sweep for two.
9:18 a.m. Oooooh. Umar almost edges Franklin, trying to run it down. Nervous times, these. I mean, let's be honest: they have no business beating us. But our crappy batting means we always -- always -- give oppositions, even those less talented than us, a chance. 92-4 after 24, and we're crawling right now. 18 runs in the last 8 overs.
9:16 a.m. Yaar, that was a single. Come on, guys.
9:15 a.m. Five dot balls, with varying line, lengths, speeds, and dips. And another dot to finish. Maiden over, and we stay at 91-4.
9:14 a.m. Again, just playing from the crease. COME ON, Yousuf.
9:13 a.m. Vettori's getting Yousuf. I feel it.
9:12 a.m. Ooh. Umar almost chops Franklin on. Yousuf got five by himself in that over, and it's 91-4 after 22.
9:10 a.m. "We need this partnership to grow," as Waz abandons all pretenses of impartiality.
9:08 a.m. "Younis Khan, with something of a rather insipid shot," Wilko waxes lyrical.
9:08 a.m. 86-4 after 21. We're officially fucked. I don't believe we're going to lose to NZ. In an international tournament, no less. Bloody hell.
9:07 a.m. Umar Akmal in. Why do I get the sick feeling he's getting a low score today?
9:06 a.m. Fuck me. Younis, with an extraordinarily soft dismissal against Vettori, just getting a leading edge to short cover as he tried to work it through the on-side. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
9:05 a.m. Waz and Wilko talking about the 2003 World Cup match against Australia, where we had them in trouble before Symonds killed us. I'm trying to think of a worse tournament for Pakistan but I'm struggling to.
9:04 a.m. 84-3 after 20. We've scored ten off our last four overs.
9:03 a.m. Franklin keeping Younis quiet here.
8:59 a.m. My view on spin, especially spin turning away from you, is that you either need to be well down the wicket, or deep in your crease. Playing a traditional style is foolhardy, because then you allow the other guy to pull you around on a string. Which is exactly what Yousuf does against left-arm spinners. He does not come out for fear of missing it, and he very rarely plays off the back foot against spin. Disastrous combination. It's 82-3 after 19, and we're slowing down here. Waz sounds concerned. "Steady start" he calls it.
8:57 a.m Their fielding has already been directly responsible for two wickets. That would've been the third, and the biggest. Anyway, 80-3 after 18, with Vettori now in. Acha, bhai merey Yousuf. Don't box yourself in. You're a good player. Why are you so afraid of left-arm spinners? Don't let them dominate, ok?
8:55 a.m. Bloody hell. Yousuf wasn't even in the frame there, as they say. Worked to square leg, sets off, Guptill fields brilliantly, and if that had hit, he was out and a half. Could have taken his time too, by lobbing it to McCullum, but I guess he got excited. Where was Yousuf going?
8:54 a.m. Franklin has settled into a rhythm here. Just keeping it tight, 6 inches outside off.
8:51 a.m. Four singles off. 78-3 after 17. I'll take it man. For now, I'll take it.
8:50 a.m. Again, if you play sensibly, these guys can't get you out. Their bowling, aside from Vettori and Bond (who's been wildly inconsistent in his return), is terrible. Only stupidity can get you out. Fortunately for them, stupidity is something we possess in excess.
8:49 a.m. 74-3 after 16. By the way, Vettori is guaranteed to get Yousuf. Dude cannot play left-arm spin to save his career.
8:46 a.m. Just working him for singles, without too much bother. Don't get complacent here, please. I'm looking at you, Yousuf.
8:45 a.m. Franklin looks so bloody easy to bat against, but then again, can't you say the same about Butler?
8:44 a.m. 71-3 after 15. NZ on top here, no question about it. No wickets for the next fifteen overs, guys.
8:43 a.m. Yousuf always looks assured.
8:41 a.m. Yousuf in. Come on guys. Just pretend it's the mid 2000s and you're playing India. Come on.
8:39 a.m. Gone! Akmal slashes Butler to deep cover, where Redmond takes a brilliant running catch. Gulp. Trouble here, kids. Trouble. 69-3, and Butler of all people has two wickets.
8:38 a.m. Younis looking busy here, with a drop-and-run. Probably the best weapon in his armory, and he uses it to his considerable advantage in test cricket.
8:37 a.m. So seven off the over. 68-2 after 14.
8:36 a.m. Full toss, four down the ground. That would've been four with or without the free hit. Yeah, Younis. Yeah.
8:35 a.m. No ball, free-hit. Come on, Younis. Come on.
8:35 a.m. "There's no real pace from Franklin," David Lloyd understates.
8:34 a.m. Come on, Younis. Captain's innings and all that. Come on.
8:33 a.m. David Lloyd in the commentary box! I can barely contain my excitement.
8:32 a.m. Solid start from Younis, driving to mid-off. Just the one and the wicket off the over, and it's 61-2 after 13. Evenly balanced at this point, with NZ perhaps just having their noses in front. Franklin replaces the threatening -- in all senses of the word -- Bond.
8:29 a.m. Gone! Butler gets Malik, with a fairly nothing ball. Malik just hung his bat out, and an axecellent catch, as Waqar would say, in the slips there. Diving to his left, as it was dying. In a bit of trouble here, we are. Younis in.
8:27 a.m. 60-1 after 12.
8:25 a.m. They're talking about all the big sporting events here, and the football World Cup here next year. So let me make a quick point about Chicago not getting Olympics. I won't be here in 2016, so it wouldn't affect me directly, but to be honest, I wanted Chicago to get them. Why? Because of the better public transport infrastructure that would surely result -- especially on the South Side, which is where the games would be held, and where I go to school. The fact that the South Side is the more dangerous (crime-wise) of the city's geography is neither here nor there: yes, it would be an international incident waiting to happen, but it's not like Rio is friggin Stockholm, is it?
8:22 a.m. 53-1 after 11. And Akmal dangerously plays Bond through backward point for four. Dangerous because it was in the air a long time, and needless because they should know his spell is coming to an end. Why reward him with another wicket?
8:21 a.m. Short, leg stump, four. As I said, two different games here: Pakistan vs. Bond, and Pakistan vs. Everyone Else. We're losing the former, winning the latter.
8:19 a.m. What's interesting about our historical dominance of NZ at big tournaments is that we've often won chasing, despite being a terrible batting team for the most part. And all the day night games at this ground in this tournament have been won by the chasing team. So the trends suggest we'll lose today. I don't want to jinx us, but I just don't see it, to be honest.
8:16 a.m. Quick, fast, short. It's obviously the Pakistani in me, but there's nothing quite like watching an express bowler bowling quick and short. Anyway, it's 46-1 after ten. Vettori faces a difficult decision now: how many more overs to give Bond? I say two more, unless he tires.
8:14 a.m. Gone! What a ball from Bond, a nasty bouncer aimed right at the throat. Crazy Imran can't get out of the way, and it loops to slip. That would have got the best of them, so we can't be upset. 46-1 after 9.4 then. And in an interesting move, Shoaib Malik in.
8:14 a.m. Swings and misses on the free hit. Fool.
8:13 a.m. It's all happening, as Bill Lawry would say. A no-ball, Crazy Imran pushes it into the vacant leg-side, starts off, sends Akmal back half-way down, and almost runs him out. Stupid decision, since it was an easy single. Wanted the free-hit, methinks.
8:12 a.m. Bond continues, and is worked for a couple singles off his first two balls. We're doing this well, attacking the other guys and respecting the guy who's bowling well.
8:10 a.m. And a single to finish the over. Whisper it, but this has been a mature innings by Crazy Imran, aside from the first few balls against Bond. 43-0 after nine, a good start by most measures. For us? This is Greenidge and Haynes stuff.
8:09 a.m. And another! Again, a pull, but more a short-arm jab off the hips. Just evades the fielder at deep square. Big over here.
8:08 a.m. Wow. Shot of the day, that. Crazy Imran plays Butler on the up, through the covers for four. Didn't try to hit it too hard either. Well played.
8:07 a.m. Butler's first ball is absolute shite, short and slow, as Crazy Imran swivels and pulls him behind square for four.
8:05 a.m. Oh dear. Akmal getting medical attention on his finger. Quick thoughts on who could possibly replace him behind the stumps: probably Younis, but he himself has finger problems. Who then? Can these Fawad/Umar Akmal types keep if needed?
8:05 a.m. The ineffective Mills replaced by Butler. By the way, do you think that later in the day, when fielders go out on the boundary, that Broom will be the sweeper? Hahahahahaha.
8:04 a.m. Great cricket there. Bond bowled a quick, full out-swinger, Crazy Imran hammered it to point, where Broom saved three. We move on to 30-0 after eight.
8:02 a.m. Akmal hit on the gloves by Bond. That's exactly what we need, our keeper out of commission.
8:01 a.m. "They're playing a more...discreet type of cricket," as Harsha betrays his puzzlement at our style here.
7:59 a.m. Before Crazy Imran picks up a half volley from Mills and smashes it for four. Good over for us then. 28-0 after seven. I don't believe I'm saying this, but it's actually a good opening partnership.
7:57 a.m. Again, the guys are just playing it around.
7:55 a.m. IT'S NOT A DOUBLE BLUFF, IT'S JUST A BLUFF!! For fuck's sake. This is perhaps my biggest pet peeve with cricket commentators, so I will say this slowly so it is comprehensible. When you put a man back at deep square, the batsman is ostensibly expecting a bouncer. If you bowl something other than a bouncer, it is a bluff. Not a double bluff. A double bluff would be actually bowling a bouncer. Idiots. Anyway, Mills to continue to Akmal, with Pakistan 21-0 after six.
7:54 a.m. This pitch is flatter than a bloody pancake.
7:53 a.m. And now Crazy Imran plays a pull off a ball too full, but gets four for his troubles. Against India and the Windies, that was out.
7:52 a.m. Ooooh. Akmal almost Sehwags it to third man, but it's short of him.
7:51 a.m. Solid end to the over, and it's 16-0 after five. I could be wrong, but I think Bond has given away only two of those runs.
7:50 a.m. And four to fine leg, off Crazy Imran's pads. Mills is serving up real rubbish here. A bunch of balls down the leg side, two of which have been called wide, and one of which went for four. No real pace either.
7:48 a.m. To drive that last point home, Akmal pushes Mills for three through point. Crazy Imran hasn't played Mills much, if at all, in this game so far.
7:47 a.m. Ooooh. A yorker almost gets him, but it's wide of off-stump. 9-0 after four. It's two games from two ends here. Bond is very threatening, Mills is very innocuous.
7:46 a.m. You're not going to believe this, but Crazy Imran just played another defensive shot. "I've never seen Imran Nazir blocking so many deliveries in my entire life," says Waz. Me neither.
7:45 a.m. Bond is banana swinging it in. Really good bowling so far.
7:43 a.m. I nominate Simon Doull for the Kepler Wessels "Egging my team on so transparently that it's actually endearing" memorial award. Anyway, Bond continues to Crazy Imran, who has no idea of what to do.
7:43 a.m. Another wide. Come on Mills. Two more, right here.
7:41 a.m. Akmal pulls Mills for two. This has been a very quiet start, from both teams. It just seems flat out there. The small crowd doesn't help.
7:39 a.m. This Mills chap is pedestrian compared to Bond. And as soon as I type that, he beats Akmal outside off with a beauty that holds its line.
7:38 a.m. Just the one from the over, then. 6-0 after two.
7:37 a.m. Do you think the one-down batsmen just waits by the boundary when Crazy Imran is batting? He's almost been out three times in three balls, either by just coming down on it in time, or playing an airy fairy shot to a fielder.
7:36 a.m. And Akmal's away with a single to third man. This should be fun.
7:35 a.m. Bond to Akmal.
7:34 a.m. Pretty circumspect start here, with Crazy Imran even playing a couple defensive shots. Anyway, the boundary and wide mean we're 5-0 after one. By the way, the ground is about 25% filled.
7:32 a.m. Loose and stupid shot, somehow evades the fielders, four to the cover boundary. Idiot.
7:31 a.m. Decent enough start. And by that I mean, it's been two balls and Crazy Imran is still batting.
7:30 a.m. Simon Doull just called Crazy Imran and Akmal "two relative newcomers". Um, Crazy Imran has been around since 1998, and Akmal since 2004. How relative are we talking here? Anyway, Mills to Crazy Imran to start.
7:29 a.m. Our two "openers" come out. The quote marks because, well...it's self-explanatory, no?
7:27 a.m. I don't know why, but whenever I see the NZ team standing in a lineup, I think of Ocean's Eleven.
7:24 a.m. Younis, as usual, is quite chirpy at the toss. Vettori says he'll be happy restricting us to less than 300. Mind games, perhaps? I say our bowling and their batting means anything about 275 will be super hard to chase. Anyway, it's the national anthems, so excuse me while I put my hand on my heart.
7:16 a.m. Before we begin, let me make a quick personal note. Two days, my computer refused to boot. I kept getting a "disk read error occurred, press ctrl+alt+del to restart" message. Well, I kept doing so, but it returned me to the same screen. I showed it to a computer genius friend of mine, who, bless his heart, spent three hours on it, trying all sorts of fancy schmancy tactics, none of which I can actually describe because I don't know shit about computers. Anyway, the diagnosis he made was that my hard drive was "corrupted but recognizable".
Why does this matter, you ask? Well, my dissertation proposal hearing -- the meeting in which my dissertation committee formally approves (hopefully) my dissertation proposal -- is scheduled for next Thursday. And you know what I need for that? A DISSERTATION PROPOSAL. Unfortunately, my baby, my proposal, which I've been working on for a year now, exists in some data black hole as we speak. All my reading notes -- all the books and journal articles and edited book chapters which I went over -- gone. My MA, which was written two years ago and rewritten one month ago, in an attempt to make it a publishable article, gone. Not to mention pictures and music.
Anyway, I've given it to Best Buy and spent good money to get my shit back, which they claim they'll be able to do. But why, you may ask, is this relevant to cricket? Because there's no way that I can be subjected to what I was in the last two days AND a Pakistan loss to these loser Kiwis. Write it up and take it home, folks. We're winning today.
And back your fucking data up.
7:14 a.m. We've won the toss, and chosen to bat. I can't wait for Crazy Imran vs. Bond. That should be fun.
7:11 a.m. The team news for Pakistan is that we will play the same team that beat India, so Asif makes way for Aamer and Crazy Imran is back in for Misbah. The rest is predictable. New Zealand are playing McCullum, Redmond, Guptill, Taylor, Elliot, Broom, Franklin, Vettori, Mills, Butler and Bond. James Bond. Hahahaha. I always wanted do that.
Hello and welcome to Rs.5's coverage of the Champions Trophy semifinal between Pakistan and New Zealand. One quick note: the blogging will be done in reverse order, per reader requests. It's easier to follow that way, but there is the added cost that someone reading it after the game has to start from the bottom. But I think I'd rather have someone reading it after the game pay a higher cost than the people reading it live.
Anyways, as always, all times are local (i.e. Chicago).