Last year, the match between Pakistan and South Africa was one that people were looking forward to. Everybody wanted to know if the Saffers were going to choke or finally make it to the finals of an ICC tournament. If they were going to choke it was going to be good comedy, if not then it was going to be good comedy as well...considering the other team was Pakistan and the events that usually unfold after almost all their tournament exits. Either way, it was a game we were going to enjoy and we knew it.
Saffers lost, people laughed and eventually Pakistan went to win the World Cup. High drama, tension, crazy Afridi moments, unpredictability and even a heroic attempt from Jacques Kallis. All the characteristics of the perfect summer blockbuster.
This year when the sequel inevitably came out, people were at two-minds about it. Neither the Saffers nor the Pakistanis were in form. Both teams were missing the point (the point being winning helps), both teams were being captained by unimaginative, hairy people but both teams were in a do or die situation. Saffers were slightly on top, as winning the match would at least give them a fighting chance regardless of who won the next one. Pakistanis needed to win AND have England win theirs.
Too many ifs, buts and whatevers. Too many players acting like they were auditioning for matches, rather than playing it. Too much green.
But people still hoped for a good match. Some were sure Pakistan was going to own SA again, others thought even a stuttering SA was too good for them. Yet others thought, why try to beat Pakistan when Pakistan can beat themselves?
Pakistan won the toss and batted first, like last time. They even started terribly. Then they consolidated and eventually reached a respectable score. The match was different, yet there was some familiar bits and pieces. Only, Botha didn't bowl like a dodo bird (ROFL replaced him) and Charl played Parnie's role, but better. Overall, the Saffers did more than okay with the ball, despite Umar Akmal trying to fluoroscent his way through the attack.
Then the chasing began and here was the difference between last summer's blockbuster and the sequel. Within the year Saffers had forgotten how to bat, specially their top three. AB replaced Jakes as this summer's hero; he even swore. But then, like every Saffa batsman these days, he got out the minute he started to clear the boundary. To the 'shitscoop' too. At least that's what Dilshan seems to have taught him.
JP got out before someone could blame him for slowing down his team again and the Saffers fell to yet another spinner, only it was Saeed Ajmal. Ultimately they lost and people happily called them chokers despite the fact that they have been doing the exact same thing in limited overs for about seven months now.
Yes, the differences had a familiar tone in this sequel. Hence, the changes didn't work, nobody was super excited and the match was not a blockbuster. Specially if you are a Saffa fan. But then the Kiwi-England match happened and people could happily forget the disappointing sequel.
Now the unpredictable Pakistanis are in the semis and still have a chance to retain their cup. If that happens, then there is sure to be a third part to this story, which will be even worse.
Remember the Matrix Revolutions?