Awesome Anwar Sinks Kiwis
Trevor Chesterfield - 16 June 1999
Manchester(England): Pakistan owe Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell a year's free supply of tandoori chicken for his slip-fielding generosity at The Oval last Friday.
The beneficiary on that occasion was Saeed Anwar who went on to score a century and repeated it against New Zealand yesterday on an afternoon of rare sunshine and warmth at Old Trafford and in an ominous display of batting helped pilot Pakistan into the World Cup '99 final at Lord's on Sunday.
Pakistan won by nine wickets with Anwar's contribution being a near flawless undefeated 113 in a total of 242 for one in reply to New Zealand's 241 for seven.
In a match where vocal Pakistan support became out of control that it ended in a needless crowd invasion of the field with six runs needed for victory the game was held up for 10 minutes. It was Anwar's second successive century of the tournament, however, which was the foundation around which their triumph was built.
It came after he and his partner, Wajahatullah Wasti demolished the World Cup first wicket partnership record of 186 held by South Africans Gary Kirsten and Andrew Hudson, against lightweights Holland in Rawalpindi. They added 194 in an orgy or run-making on a pitch which was as slow and as friendly as a grandmother's handshake.
While Shoaib Akhtar, if we are to believe the speed gun which measures the pace of his bowling managed to get the ball through at 93 mph on one occasion, the Kiwi's Geoff Allott was measured at 88 mph, which was far slower than he managed against India in the Super Sixes series match at Trent Bridge last Saturday.
But such was Anwar's dominance yesterday that the 24-year-old Wasti, a new face to many outside the sub-continent, and who stroked the ball easily enough, trailed in the older man's wake. Which is as it should have been.
There was a touch of the master about Anwar's batting: while he picked up only nine boundaries and faced 148 balls, he had few moments of doubt; and those which may have crossed his mind were swiftly hammered through the covers or worked into the gaps.
Early warning signs of the record partnership to follow came in the third over of the innings when Allott fired in two yorkers and saw them flicked through the covers and with the first nine overs yielding 50 runs the Kiwis knew soon enough they were in trouble without a genuine spinner. Although whether one would have been good enough on this surface is a debatable point.
The run charge started at a rollicking pace and any thought of a repeat of the collapse by the Pakistan middle-order against India was swiftly handled.
No doubt South Africa and Australia had a good look at the way Pakistan batted at Old Trafford and would not surprising have been a little worried by what they saw.