Pakistan win augurs well for world cricket

Pakistan’s Champions Trophy triumph at the Oval on Sunday will go down as one of the greatest comeback stories in sports. They entered the competition as the lowest-ranked team at No. 8 and performed likewise in their opening game against India – losing by a whopping 124 runs. If anyone gave even an iota of chance to Pakistan before this game, it was gone now. They had to beat the No. 1-ranked South Africa and Sri Lanka, who had beaten the mighty India earlier, in their last two games to enter the semifinal. After scraping to the last-four with some luck but plenty of pluck, Pakistan were expected to cave in against England, the only unbeaten side in the tournament till that stage. Sarfraz Ahmed’s inexperienced side, however, once again made mockery of grandiose predictions to knock the hosts out and set up a dream final against India. While Pakistan had done exceedin­gly well to reach the summit clash, few would have dared to write India off. Their record in ICC tournaments, the recent history between the two sides and the form of their bowlers and batsmen pointed to Virat Kohli hoisting the trophy. If only sport was as simple!

The rub of the green did go the Pakistan way in the final. Fakhar Zaman should have gone for 3, many of his edges missed the stumps and he also survived being run-out a few times. It was his day and by extension Pakistan’s. That, however, should not take anything away from their effort.

They were clearly the better side on the day — there was intent, aggression and hunger to redeem themselves against their arch-rivals and they did so in emphatic fashion. While India will rue one bad day in office, they have nothing to be ashamed of. This is a young talented group that will get many more chances to add several chapters of glory in time to come.

From the world cricket’s point of view, though, the win for Pakistan couldn’t have come at a better
time. They are an exciting cricketing country with an uncanny capacity to churn out players of exceptional talent. They are a country where international cricket has been absent for nearly a decade now, they don’t have proper first-class structure nor state-of-the-art academies with specialist coaches. Yet they keep producing such exhilarating stuff which is a tribute to their resoluteness. Cricketing world is small and it needs teams like Pakistan to be in good health. We have almost lost West Indies and the game is poorer for it. We don’t want Pakistan to go the same way, do we?

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