Big Billy Bullies Number One Ranked Pakistan
Beef burgers, fries, kids kicking up heels and a top order meltdown under the Harare sun. A setting Australia well and truly basked in after a long while.
As they looked to shrug off their psychological wounds after a 0-6 drubbing at the hands of England, Australian bowling fortunes were in dire straits. Injuries to Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood hadn’t helped and suddenly their bowling looked depleted with little variety. The two-meter tall Billy Stanlake was touted as the perfect match to England’s hard hitting batting might.
None of his exploits accrued in victories but the day they ran into the number one ranked T20 side, he redeemed himself. Prior to the match, there were talks of Australia dwindling against another trial by spin so much that nobody talked about the match up of Pakistan collapsing against pace and bounce. Quite rightly so because the conditions in Zimbabwe were on the drier side. Big Billy defied all the odds and extracted bounce off the cracked surface. He’s your protagonist from a Ruskin Bond story. He found bounce where there was none to find.
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With early movement on offer, he drew first blood from the blade of an erring Mohammad Hafeez. A good take by Aaron Finch at first slip. As if the pace was unforgiving, Stanlake’s accuracy was rewarded with Hussain Talat gloving a rip-snorter of a lifter to Finch at first slip again who took a one-handed stunner with a well timed dive.
Before you could move on from the moment, Stanlake doesn’t let you or Fakhar Zaman settle in as he strangles the latter down the leg side and the umpire quietly obliges to a gingerly appeal from stumper Alex Carey.
Three overs, 14 dots, five runs, three wickets. No prices to guess who was on top.
Pakistan were reeling at 23-3 at the end of the powerplay. A situation they had put the Chevrones in just less than a day ago. A taste of their own medicine but more importantly the short ball woes were back to haunt the subcontinental team on a pitch they didn’t expect Australia to spring them a surprise on.
Into the seventh over, Finch decided to bowl out Stanlake and it made sense. The duo combined for the third time to give Stanlake his career- best figures. Sarfraz Ahmed, playing a delivery intended to seam away, looked to fend it away but to his horror found the leaping Aussie skipper who had been kept busy in a position that often accorded chivalry and reverence in the longest form of the game.
With 18 dots, no extras, not a single boundary, just eight runs and four wickets, Stanlake’s job was finished and had pretty much brought curtains on Pakistan’s batting might. It was his length , pace , bounce , accuracy and Finch’s impeccable slip fielding exploits that broke Pakistan’s back as the man in the tall frame walked away to cow corner with the second best T20I figures for Australia.
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