Passions were high before Pakistan vs India clash but the way the former champions played was ridiculous except Sohail Khan’s five for.
Catches were dropped and the team never looked as if they were playing in the biggest cricket tournament, which they had won in the past, as acidic former test pacer Sarfraz Nawaz said that it looked as if the team was featuring in a club tournament.
A big 150-run thrashing at the hands of mercurial West Indies, who had lost their previous match to rising Affiliate team Ireland, completely shattered the interest in the World Cup just the way it happened in 2003 and 2007 editions.
The narrow victory against Zimbabwe and another against minnow UAE were not enough to cheer fans up and expect something big from the struggling team.
The ridiculous decision of the team management to experiment with Younus Khan as opener in the high-octane India match and later giving chance to underperforming Nasir Jamshed in three straight games seemed as if the team in green was Down Under only as a formality.
To be frank, South Africa with AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Morne Morkel were match favorites not since Pakistan put below par performance in the World Cup and Proteas twice crossed 400-mark, but much before the tournament.
And then, wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed came – the way the history books quote Julius Caesar as saying ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’.
It would be a bit unjust not to give credit to pacers Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali and Mohammad Irfan, who each captured six wickets but the way Sarfraz opened the inning for Pakistan, it looked as if there was an upset on cards.
His 49 off 49 balls may not look much attractive after Chris Gayle’s historic 215 and AB de Villiers 66-ball unbeaten 162 but the way he went for the Proteas pacers is cherishable especially keeping in mind Pakistan’s below par performance in previous matches.
Sarfraz’s record equaling six catches behind the wickets were more impactful in the match especially the one he took off Hashim Amla’s edge. If that catch was dropped, which if frankly said would be the case had the team management went with makeshift wicketkeeper Umar Akmal, Amla might have taken the Proteas to victory stand almost singlehandedly.
With the last Pool B match on Sunday morning against Ireland, one can expect that Pakistan would not let their 2007 demons overpower them when the minnows elbowed them out of the title race early in the tournament.
I now believe that Pakistan has a strong cricket team and we have had been one of the best cricket playing nations. And I now hope when Pakistan (most probably) meet Australia in quarterfinals, they would put a battle and it would not be a one-way onslaught by the home team.
Victory and defeat doesn’t matter when a team shows that it posses the power to fight and a fight is what the nation want to see from their stars.
Even if Pakistan had fallen against South Africa after capturing seven wickets with de Villiers on crease, it would not have made much of difference since by then Pakistan had shown that they have the potential to threaten tournament favorites and by eventually beating Proteas, the team showed that they, on their day, could beat any top-class team…
And for that I thank ‘Man of that Match’ Sarfraz to be able to make me and millions like me believe in our national side once more that they possess what it need to become champions like Imran Khan’s World Cup 1992 ‘cornered tigers’ had shown…