Pakistan Cricket Team: Dreams, Disasters, Delights and Despairs
Since its inception, Pakistan cricket has always been the visual representation of terms such as unpredictable, volatile, erratic, etc. This erraticism and volatility have always been our identification and brand on the international cricket circuit. For decades, we have confused fans, professionals, analysts, and commentators alike until Harsha Bhogle perfectly summed us up in that clip.
Ask any Pakistan cricket fan about their worst nightmare, and the first answer would be to go into a tournament as the favorites. Be it that rain-saved team of 1992 or the canceling-a-series-to-qualify team of 2017, we love the underdog story so much that we only win as underdogs. Going into the Asia Cup as the number one-ranked team, with the most prolific top-order in ODI cricket and the fast bowling good enough to send shivers down the spine of any player of the game, the Pakistan team checked all boxes.
When all these seasonals, newbies, and amateur fans thought that we had this Asia Cup in the bag, that the greatest batsmen Pakistan has probably ever produced will finally have a trophy to show for it, the OGs knew. All the OGs who had seen the collapse of ’99, the scoop of ’07, the Hussey heist of ’10, the drop of ’21, and countless other matches knew that this wasn’t #ThePakistanWay.
We saw the first glimpses of #ThePakistanWay in Pallekele, where we didn’t deserve to let a partnership build after dismantling the dangerous top order of India; we didn’t deserve to pull it back the way we did to restrict them to 266, and we definitely didn’t deserve to watch the game get washed out with the game being evenly poised, but alas. Stars aligned for us quickly in Lahore when we defeated Bangladesh on our home soil in the most dominant fashion, but unfortunately, soon after the game ended, the stars were disarranged for good.
Team Pakistan had one of the weirdest games of their history in Colombo against India as Murphy’s law came into full swing. In a one-day international spread over two days with multiple rain breaks, Pakistan didn’t know what struck them. To make matters worse, there was a hattrick of injuries to the mainstays of our team. With reinforcements and replacements being bought in and the ever-increasing number of injuries, Pakistan somehow managed to name an eleven for the Sri Lanka match. All the strategies were thrown out of the window, with the only goal being to find eleven players to play the match.
That night in Colombo, we saw the Pakistan of Pallekele again, a team that didn’t deserve to have a competitive total after an abysmal start to the innings, but yet they had one, all thanks but no thanks to a spell of rain that turned a tricky pitch into a batting heaven. After batting for most of the innings in those tricky conditions, Pakistan had to defend an approximately run-a-ball target on a pitch with little support for the bowlers. When Sri Lanka took off with a ballistic start, Shadab Khan had no right to enforce that runout or take that catch to send back both the openers.
Soon after, common sense prevailed, and Sri Lanka started to cruise towards what should have been the easiest chase of the tournament. Pakistan were out; they were done and dusted when Iftikhar bowled a spell of a lifetime that he had no right to bowl on this pitch; Shaheen then bowled an over that only he could, and suddenly Pakistan’s fate relied on the young debutant, the Kashmiri prince, the Qalandar of Lahore and the master of the final overs. Just as it seemed that the match was in the bag, and for once it would be a Pakistani debutant becoming a star, instead of a debutant playing against Pakistan, Pakistan met their eternal enemy, a flying edge down the third man for four. All the hopes were rattled, and Pakistan lost in the most Pakistan Way possible.
If you thought the tragedy was over after that last ball, you were wrong. The worst came after, as Pakistan Cricket Twitter met their best friend, Recency Bias. Suddenly, questions were raised on the only captain to lead us into three finals in two years with calls to sack him 3 weeks before a World Cup, the star all-rounder who was just nominated for ICC Cricketer of the Month 15 days ago, and the explosive opener who despite the disastrous tournament averages over 46 in the last year. More or less, the mere existence of everyone related to Pakistan cricket was questioned.
As they say, there’s light at the end of every tunnel. All these injuries, question marks, and criticisms bring in what the Pakistan cricket team knows best: uncertainty. With the World Cup just around the corner, the team that seemed settled a month ago is distraught and has several questions to answer and several people to prove wrong. Within the last month, we have created a situation around us in which we are known to thrive the most, the situation the OGs of Pakistan Cricket are used to, the situation that hopefully sets the ground for an amazing World Cup run ahead.
As Hadiqa Kiani once sang:
Hum Na Baaz Ayege, Iss Muhabat Se
Jaan Jayegi, Aur Kya Hoga?
The opinions expressed solely belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Grassroots Cricket.