I might get lynched if this write up reaches the reading table of self proclaimed torch bearers of patriotism, chest thumping right wing media warriors and of course, cow terrorists. Because, I am going to conclude this blog by saying that the current Pakistan cricket team has been a joy to watch.
Over the years, Pakistan’s attitude on the field has transformed into a greater level. I am not sure if you can think beyond Misbah in having nurtured the team’s attitude and there by bringing in, a sense of dignity. Gone are the days when Pakistan used to annoy and bully teams with super natural fast bowlers and chants from behind the wicket. They still have an abundant supply of raw fast bowling talents but when you look at the players on the field, you realize that things have changed. The only thing that hasn’t changed, is their unpredictability. There is a sense of innocence in the way their captain addresses the post match press conferences. Much has been said and mocked, unfairly and equally irritatingly, about Sarfaraz’s English speaking skills but agree or not, he has brought a lot of purpose to this team. His child-like enthusiasm on the field is adorable. His pep talks are the work of a leader in progress. His chants from behind the stumps, remind you of Moin Khan. But he isn’t Pakistan’s complete story.
Pakistan’s resurgence is the story of a bighearted Hassan Ali, the new generation opener Fakhar Zaman, of the supremely talented Babar Azam and of their decision to not send Shehzad and Hafeez to open the innings. Hassan Ali’s run up gives you an indication of the hard work that has gone into his making. He isn’t an Akthar, nor does he come anyway closer to the masterful Akram. His uniqueness lies in the absence of special tricks that the Pakistani fast bowlers are known to possess. He is just a normal bowler and looks forward to his every run up with a lot of discipline. Fakhar Zaman is different though. He does unPakistan things. He is Pakistan’s Sehwag with the bat. He sets them off to a flier. He is the new generation smasher. He must have never seen Hafeez bat. He flat bats the ball over the pacer’s head with nonchalance. So, in a 230-240 run chase, he takes them to a 100 inside the 15 overs and minimizes the chances of a choke. He has transformed the way Pakistan looked at ODIs. You simply wish he doesn’t get embroiled in any funny incident that might snowball into a massive scandal or a controversy. Then there is Mohammad Amir, the child prodigy, the teenage prodigy who lost his way, when the cricket writers worldwide were writing celebratory posts after spotting the next Wasim Akram. We don’t know how his rehabilitation phase was but every wicket that he takes, makes the cricket lover happier. No other cricket team has tales like these. And that’s what make Pakistan, Pakistan.
Pakistan are known to do Pakistan things. They could botch up a run chase with ease. They could also churn up surprise wins, which might surprise the hell out of the bookies in Sharjah. With every passing tournament, Pakistan keeps letting the ICC know that Cricket needs them more than they need cricket. So, what am I going to expect in the final on Sunday? Expect the unexpected. No one expected Pakistan to be in the finals. But no one wrote them off either. Ah, Pakistan. May you never change. Because, watching you play in this tournament has given us unbridled joy. Your brand of cricket is a thing of beauty. For a change, let us leave aside the emotions of India Pakistan politics and look forward to the final as a neutral cricket lover. Be an English or an Australian for a day. Because we love cricket more.