A close friend from Delhi called to congratulate after Pakistan had decimated expectations at the Oval with their unremitting, albeit unexpected, batting. My response? A true Pakistani cricket fan never concedes ODI victory till the forty-ninth over. With these guys, you just never know.
Except this time, we did. In fact, that forty-ninth over never came. We didn’t need it.
Pakistan’s resurgence post the humiliating defeat in the first ICC Champions Trophy match against India has been nothing short of miraculous. The team had looked invincible in the last three matches; bleeding singles, marking boundaries, catching drones flying near and far on the field and bowling their hearts out.
On the morning of the ICC Champions Trophy final with India, social media resonated with generous, calming support for the Pakistani team as local cricket fan, after almost a decade, stood contented. Their team exuded an unprecedented vigor and were going to take Troy.
There are few moments in one’s life when one can sit silently and feel the happiness resonate within them. Each molecule works in perfect unison to absorb a fairytale ending. Winning the final on the 18 of June, 2017 was one of those rare moments for a Pakistani cricket fan. This match was not about redeeming players shrouded in embarrassing controversies,churning humiliating score cards but about recognizing a team woken anew, laborious and determined.
It mattered that the combat involved the greatest chasers in the cricketing arena, the Indian batting side is always the Antichrist to Pakistan’s bowling prophecy. Beating India is both personal and impressive.In this final, it was a walk in the Oval. Fakhar Zaman, the stealthycat with nine lives was resurrected courtesy a no-ball rushing on to score 114 runs. Azhar Ali, made up with his patience and maturity what he lacks in natural skill. Even Hafeez had a good day with the bat- when’s the last time that happened? However, even though a strong batting total was overwhelmingly welcome, victory was still not assured. We still did not have the winning trojan horse.
Pakistan’s cricket team has over the decades pioneered and perfected bowling unlike any other, but who had ever fathomed that Hassan Ali would rise from the echelons of Pakistani talent like a phoenix. This gentleman can nuke a batsman straight out of the game by his precision, skill and perfection. Accompanying him in the team is also the singular and phenomenal Mohammad Amir- a prophet in both his skill and the flux of rejection and acceptance he has had to face. No mortal words can sum him, his promise materializing every time you need a wicket. Ripe with Junaid Khan, Shadab and Imad Wasim,Pakistan’s bowling attack was the finest among the teams coveting this year’s Champions Trophy.
Unsurprisingly, even through the vicissitudes of this Cricket Tournament and the Pakistani team’s penchant for upsets, it has escaped no one’s notice that the crowning jewels of Pakistan’s bowling attack are young, threatening and here to stay. Imagine the hours of cricketing delight they promise as the world collectively witnesses their perfection grow and shatter previous records.
Pakistan has now won the ICC Champions Trophy and rests emitting a glow of pride and pleasure, warm enough to thaw the country’s disappointed neighbors. Sales have been announced by leading clothing brands milking a victorious ICC potboiler. Pakistanis’ in throngs have danced till sunrise, hero worshipping white jackets adorned on green uniforms. And me? I want the whole world to stand completely still as the long awaited complacency of our victory submerges us.