It all started at Edgbaston, when Pakistan pulled of a one man show victory against Bangladesh in the warm-ups. Anyone would have thought, that Pakistan might not be heading in for a good show in the Champions Trophy, but who knew what was up next.
Pakistan’s next warm up game was against the mighty Aussies but it was washed out and the fans only witnessed 10 overs of play. Pakistan were up against their rivals on the 4th June, they were written out by experts and fans before the game and rightly so.
A horror defeat against the Indian’s dented to hopes of Pakistani’s. Pakistan had to face a heavy defeat against their rivals India, the margin went up till 123 runs as Pakistan were bowled out for 164 trying to chase 289 of 41 overs in a shortened game. The fan base was upset, the former cricketers were cross and so were former cricketers and experts from other countries worried for Pakistan.
The next game was up against the number 1 ranked side in ODI’s. The South Africans, they were heading into the tournament with some great form. They had defeated Sri Lanka in the previous match by a fair bit of margin. Nobody expected a performance from Pakistan, the fan’s just wanted to see a good performance and convincing fight back from the Pakistani’s.
But, that was not the case! The Pakistani fast bowlers turned up for the team and uprooted the South African line-up for 219. Where did that performance come from? All of a sudden the horrific game against India was starting to fade out of the mind’s of the players and also the fans. There was energy, there were Yorkers, there was hunger, there were wickets, everything just seemed to tick off. Pakistan had announced replacements earlier for Ahmed Shehzad and Wahab Riaz, Fakhar Zaman and Junaid Khan had replaced them both after the game against India.
Some luck was surely required for the Pakistani’s, rain arrived and Pakistan was ahead of the DLS by 19 runs. That sealed Pakistan’s maiden victory in the Champions Trophy 2017 as the rain did not want to stop. It was a monumental effort. The fans were overjoyed, the experts were taking their harsh words back and it seemed as if the Pakistani’s were back.
Up next was Sri Lanka, previously the Lankans had defeated India by 7 wickets and chased down 322 as a target with ease. That meant Pakistan were to play a decisive match against Sri Lanka on 12th, which would decide; who will make it to the semi-finals. And rightly so, Pakistan showed the same attitude of which they left off from against the Proteas.
The same fiery bowling performance continued, it was at Cardiff this time. The ball was seaming and bouncing, the Pakistani pace attack took much advantage of that. All the wickets taken were by pacers, and it was the same reverse swing that helped out the star man of Pakistan yet again, Hassan Ali.
No Pakistani victory is complete without some drama added to it, eventually after a good start, Pakistan collapsed and 162 for 7 chasing 237. Mohammad Amir and the captain Sarfaraz Ahmed guided Pakistan from there onwards and Pakistan didn’t lose a wicket from there. Pakistan sealed their semi-final spot and were set to play England 2 days later at Cardiff.
The fans were stunned by this effort from the Pakistan Cricket Team, the experts quoted that they were not expecting it; but this is Pakistan, expect the unexpected at all times, they will come out of their kit bags and hunt you down better then any other. Always beware, never write off the Pakistani’s, if you do, they will stomp on you and bury you under the ground.
So, it was Wednesday morning, a huge crowd was heading in that outnumbered the English supporters, who were known to be at home. “Pak sar zameeeenn shaaadd baaddd” went the crowd and the players, right before the big game kicked off.
Nobody expected, in fact most of the fans and experts were happy with Pakistan reaching the semi-finals alone since it is a big thing for a team ranked 8th. The worst of the best. But Pakistan came up with the same energy, this time they had the Prince of Islamabad United in the eleven as Mohammad Amir was left out with a back spasm.
The fast bowlers, yet again were on a roll, the Pakistani pace attack was underestimated and criticized a lot after the horror game against India, but the comeback they made to shut the critics was unbelievable.
The Pakistani pace attack thumped the English batting line-up for 211. A line-up that was known to be the best of the tournament and were expected to make 350 against Pakistan, instead they fell 139 runs short.
The fans were still not that confident, they expected another collapse like show in the last match. But the Pakistani openers had other plans. The attack started right from the started and ended in the 22nd over. Pakistan piled up 118 runs by 21.1 overs when the first batsman had departed. Fakhar Zaman set the tone for the top and middle order to chase down the small target. 57 of 58 consisting of 7 fours and a six. Azhar Ali scored a big hand with 76 of 100 balls and carried the team to victory, Mohammad Hafeez added the finishing touches and the crackers started to burst inside the Pakistani fans. Up went all the hands, jumping around, bats swinging in joy, hugs all around the dressing room and a roar went out from the coach Mickey Arthur.
The crowd was dancing, the crowd back in Pakistan was dancing, the media was on a roll and everyone seemed to go up and down with their unstoppable actions of joy. It was unexpected, it was very unexpected, and very few saw that coming. Well folks, it’s just Pakistan cricket, if you’re and old follower, it would be another day with a blue sky for you. But the happiness and excitement this team has brought to the country that was in thirst of victory, is just where one could keep imagining and have no breaks in between. And it will be fair enough to say; these performances have been nothing more then just a start to another roller-coaster ride.