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Scotland v Pakistan IT20 series - a mouth watering contest in prospect

Scotland cricket, still buzzing with its incredible ODI win against England, over the weekend, hosts Pakistan in two back-to-back t20 matches in Edinburgh. Given the overwhelming number of international exchanges in the game, surprisingly the two teams have only met once before at Durban in September 2007 in the inaugural world t20. As the top-ranking ICC t20 team in the world, with only three defeats in its last 20 games, Pakistan naturally takes the field as favourites. Mind you the hasty nature and ever evolving dynamics of t20, can simply take away both history and present form, out of the equation.

The rapid growth of t20 format both at domestic and international has come at the expense of shrinking crowd in both Test cricket and ODIs. It will also be foolhardy to ignore the fact that t20 brand has energized international cricket to a level where Tests and ODIs too are being played at a much faster and entertaining pace. The short duration of t20 fits in well with the modern pace of life, that we all experience, is increasingly hectic. We are all constantly on the go and happily multi-tasking for the best part of the day. The communication lines all around the world are buzzing 24/7 through the revolutionary advance in communication technology. We have a generation of cricket fans whose affiliation to the game is based just on t20, a format that has done more to globalize cricket than anything previously.

 Live broadcast or live streaming of cricket matches is in the palm of your hands, occupied so often by an iPhone or an iPad. The hi-tech gadgets allowing the data and images to reach any part of the globe, faster than Jamaica’s Usain Bolt finishing his 100m sprint. The high definition digital technology is set to drive us at a breakneck speed. At times one wonders if one still appreciates the ‘quality cricket’ anymore for the gimmicks of aggressive marketing, sleek presentation, household brand names have driven us to a point where individualism and gentle and more natural pace of life is fast diminishing. There is no turning back, I am afraid.

Ever since Pakistan played its first ever international t20 on its 2006 tour of England, it has retained its position as one of the leading teams of the shortest format. Pakistan players, often having learned the game on streets or make-shift pitches, continue to produce players, who adapt so readily to the demands of t20. The tape-ball tournaments, played under floodlights at club level in major towns and cities, is all about hitting each and every ball, out of the ground, and breeding ground for innovative stroke play and in return equally well-thought out bowling plans, both with pace and spin.

 Despite the fact, that t20 is so heavily loaded in favour of the bat, Pakistan continues to rely on its bowling to win matches. Once again defying the odds to create its own identity. A combination of well-honed skills and ‘natural’ aggression, seemed to have served quite well. One cannot also overlook the fact that the quality of all-rounders too has counted in Pakistan’s favour as the likes of ‘Boom Boom’ Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez, often gave the team an edge over its opposition and its world rating. In more recent times, the launching of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2016, has become a platform to excel and gain instant stardom. Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf, four key players in the present Pakistan squad in Edinburgh, owe their inclusion to the exposure provided by PSL.

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