It has been more than two days since Pakistan beat India in the Champions Trophy 2017 final to become 4th nation to have won all three major ICC tournaments; West Indies, India and Sri Lanka being the other three.
There are no doubts that this victory will never be forgotten. The Pakistani fans, not just in Pakistan but all around the world have celebrated it with great enthusiasm and passion. This is where the lines “Hum Aik Hain” (We Are One) fit upon us. Regardless of what the nation goes through, what problem this poor nation faces, how tough life are people here spending, this one sport bring us all together. Cricket brings us all together.
While all are in euphoria of the win, dancing and celebrating still, the ups-and-downs of our team’s journey in this edition of Champions Trophy are worth a mention.
Edgbaston, Birmingham. First match to begin the tournament as the number 8th team in the ranking. Opponent? The arch rivals. The Mighty Indians.
The team went in the ground with least confidence they could ever have. The game, ultimately, turned out to be horrendous. India dominated everything. Whatever they touched turned to gold. Contrary to that, everything Pakistanis touched, turned to sand and slipped out of their hands. India batted first which is the thing they’d always love to as batting is their strongest department, and set an enormous total of 319 for Pakistan to chase. Excluding a few, not many times has Pakistan completed successful chases. Batting being their weaker foot, it was hard to score. Indians outclassed them in every department and registered a very comfortable win by 124 run. That match was also affected by rain but D/L method couldn’t even save Pakistan. The loss was written in the stars for the men in green.
Disappointed and disheartened, the nation lost the hopes. There was criticism, media trials and what not? The already heart-broken team could find no boost.
But, the Fate had other plans. Sarfaraz and the boys faced South Africa next. The Great South Africa who have been on top of ranking for months. Out of absolutely nowhere, the boys pulled out the motivation, inspiration and passion to fight back. When all the odds defied it, Pakistan defeated South Africa by 19 runs. Then came the Asian buddies, Sri Lanka. Though this Sri Lankan side had been out of form but their Champions Trophy squad had experience and quality both. They put up a pretty strong fight in the match that had achieved the status of a Quarter-final. A little bit of luck and lots of hardwork and quality cricket, Men in Green managed to pull out a 3 wicket win over the Lankans.
Now the scenario started to change. Expectations started to build up, media started talking about it, series of interviews and analysis sessions ruled over the media for days because it was England who this team had to face in the Semi-final. England had a very strong tournament overall. They had beaten all three teams in their group stages to get to the semis. They were the favorites to win the tournament but as said before, destiny writes itself. Pakistan beat England by 8 wickets to qualify for the finals.
Now came the big game, again. India had qualified for finale by beating Bangladesh and that made the idea of winning the final even tougher for Pakistan. With a comparatively higher morale, Pakistani stepped into the ground. Despite the confidence of Indian team, media, former-players and, collectively, their whole nation, Pakistan team, under the leadership of Sarfaraz Ahmed, decided to give the best fight they could.
Toss of the final match of Champions Trophy 2017 was lost by Pakistan. Indian captain, Virat Kohli, put them to bat first by deciding that his side would field. Knowing the weaker department, Indians might have thought they would restrict this inexperienced Pakistani side to a smaller total. Even if they do set a bigger one, Indian batting is capable of chasing a 300+ total with ease.
The match began and with that the odds defying began. Pakistan team, surprisingly, set a total of 338-4 on the board. Oh the fate! The proud best batting line had to collapse with their pride on the most important day of the year. The Pakistani bowling sealed off the match by bowling out the Mighty Team India at 158. This, and this alone, is the dream this torn nation wanted to witness.
What Champions Trophy 2017 gave Pakistan?
Apart from the happiness, pride and the prestigious trophy, this tournament gave this team a bright future. Some brilliant talent and ardent young men, namely, Fakhar Zaman the opener of dream for Pakistan, Hasan Ali the fast bowler who is now seen as a future star, Shadab Khan PSL discovered young boy who can bowl, bat and field like a world-class player already and Rumman Raees another PSL’s find full of confidence and intelligence with the bowl and bat. Other than these, Sarfaraz can be seen as a long-term Captain and Leader along with a world-class keeper and batsman, Aamir is the maestro with the ball who loves taking wickets of player all fear, Azhar Ali can be a permanent starter of the games and Imad Wasim as good all-rounder and fielder. Among these, some were exposed too, like, Ahmad Shehzad who was selected for batting but looked like a little kid in front of Fakhar and was dropped out and Wahab Riaz who got a bad beating in the first game against India and left the team with an injury.
Conclusion is, our cricket has a bright future. Our domestic structure might not be good enough to produce world-class players but this thing called Pakistan Super League has lifted curtains from some serious talent which, when groomed, will be the ones the world fear.
Pakistan is back at their peak now cannot, in any way, be said. We have a long way to go, for sure, to reach that point but saying that Pakistan cricket isn’t dead yet. This bunch of athletes we have here are capable of achieving anything but we must not expect high. They are inexperienced and young and need time to reach their prime.
Pakistan cricket team has always been called unpredictable. In my opinion, that is an understatement, they are more than just that, they cannot be defined, they are “UNDEFINABLE”.