It is surreal. We won. We actually won against India … and we didn’t just win. We made it a crushing defeat!
When do we get such a moment again – maybe in 2019? For now, let’s savour this victory.
My memories of cricket world cup go back to 1983. Then comes 1992, when our Captain, Imran Khan, leads us to a remarkable victory. Fast forward to 2009, under Younus Khan’s Captaincy with the mercurial Afridi playing from the front, when we won the T20 World Cup.
CT 2017. We lose and, boy, how badly do we lose to India. People lash out at Sarfaraz and the team selection. We are all so negative, and understandably so! But Sarfaraz and Mickey Arthur have other plans, and they learn quickly from their mistakes.
So, failure to put up a good opening display gets Ahmed Shehzad dropped, and Wahab getting injured turns out a blessing in disguise. Not sure why we are stuck on playing them when we know they need to move on.
All this changed when we dropped a couple of players (hopefully for good) and put forth the younger, newer team vs South Africa, giving us a clinical victory. Hopes were rising among the Pakistani fans!
Then comes Sri Lanka – both teams try to lose, but one is being led by Sarfaraz! His street-style cricket with Amir’s support wins us the game and, apparently some luck too!
Semifinals: We blow the unbeaten English team before they can realize what hit them!
All of a sudden 2 of the favourites are out: England and Australia. (Due to rain, Bangladesh vs Australia was abandoned and Bangladesh for a point)
Now Pakistan has to defeat India. No one is confident we will win.
Anyone who says we will knows in their hearts it is a tough one.
But Allah has a plan.
We lose the toss. Kohli lets us bat first – thankfully. I literally go into sajda because I know in my heart that Pakistan would not win a match, chasing in such a high-pressure-cooker of a game.
Suddenly, it seems like a whole other team has taken over. Are these our batsmen? Is that Azhar Ali? Rotating strike, and playing aggressively? Whoa, Fakhar Zaman – this No Ball is a clear signal from Allah to settle down and focus! Play the innings of a lifetime and, you did, Alhamdulillah! His century marks a new era in our cricket. We finally have an opener who is not afraid to pull shots and rotate the strike … and who HATES dot-balls!
Hafeez who had finally started connecting the ball vs England carried forward the momentum, assisted by Babar and Imad.
Is this our batting?? Seriously??
This is Pakistan’s highest total in any Champion’s Trophy and also CT2017 highest total by any team in the tournament. Only now do we get to the bowling. I called it the best batting side vs the best bowling side! Kis mein itna hai dum?
Amir comes on and, suddenly, India is 6 for 2! With Sharma out of the way, God was clearly looking out for us. Kohli’s catch dropped by Azhar Ali is compensated by Shadab in the very next ball, and what a catch.
Amir starts the attack, and the cracks appear! This tournament has been perfect retribution for Amir. I am just so happy for him. He plays his heart out and it shows! Even Wasim Akram gives him the best compliment: that he reminds him of a lethal Wasim! WOW!
Our new boy wonder, Hasan Ali, gets rid of Dhoni, Ashwin and Bumrah. Junaid Khan takes Jadeja, and Shadab the mighty Yuvie! Surely, by far, our new hero! Boys will bowl looking up to him now. Well done!
The crumbling wickets are best sight in the world for a Pakistani fan!! Na qaabil-efaraamosh! By this time, most of us know it is time for us to sing Mauka Mauka.
Tears of joy start flowing and the sight of our boys’ jubilant faces, screaming with joy – visions of our homes, our streets, in Pakistan and all over the world, where people are supporting Team Pakistan.
This is a feeling that will not go away. It will linger. It is a rush only a cricket fan would know.
Sarfaraz leads a team of boys to do the unimaginable. Team Pakistan defies all odds. A team that struggled to reach a ranking of #8 in qualifying for the tournament goes on to actually win it! This is a new beginning for Pakistan’s Cricket Team. InshAllah.
Our bowlers – Amir, Hassan Ali, Amir, Junaid Khan, Shadab, Rumaan, Fahim – we have boys on the bench we want to play now. How amazing is that?
Khuda ki rehmat kahein?
Ramzan ki barkat?
Pakistaniyon ki dua?
Remember Allah helps those who help themselves.
Himmat e Mardan Maddad e Khuda
Thank you, Sarfaraz & the boys – for making us fall in love with cricket all over again. After the first match debacle, Sarfaraz proved his smart captaincy, quick thinking and excellent field changes.
To the coaches and everyone in management – thank you! Credit must be given where due! Also a note of appreciation to India. Had we not lost as badly as we did, we may not have risen so, thank you. Respect to Virat Kohli for the post-match speech, and acknowledging and congratulating us as winners.And, most of all, while we celebrate and rejoice … let us also stay humble.
Proudly a dheet fan!!!
A version of this article was posted on Boys in Green Facebook Page on 19 June 2017.