A Nation battling Terrorist Attacks on a daily basis, An Attack on a visiting cricket team a few months ago threatened to isolate it’s national team and the country as a whole from the rest of the cricketing world with all the countries cancelling their tours citing security reasons. To Make Matters Worse, The ICC cancelled all the matches which were alloted to Pakistan as a Host Nation for the 2011 Cricket World Cup & also shifted the Champions Trophy to a different Country, Pakistan’s players were barred from playing in the season 2 of the Cash Rich Indian Premier League with many of it’s franchisees terminating its contracts with the Pakistani Players. – Clearly a Nation on the brink of Isolation from World Cricket.
When The Pakistani Team landed in UK For the Second ICC World Twenty20 in June, Many people predicted this side as a dark horse purely on the basis of sheer talent present in this side, But Not many people or Cricket Analysts predicted that this side can actually turn out as champions because they had already assigned that title to the defending champions India & to South Africa – one of the most disciplined & professional Cricket Side in the World. And to an extent they were to be proved right as Pakistan suffered 2 heavy losses to South Africa & arch rivals India in the Warm Up Games before the start of the Championship and then to England in a Group match, Matters got even worse when the Pakistan Skipper made outrageous comments in press conferences by defining T20 Cricket as more of Fun & Entertainment for the Crowds & an odd comparison to a WWE Wrestling match, resulted in a furore especially among the Cricket Selectors back home in the PCB & lead to the Chief Selector Abdul Qadir resigning from his post.
Fans were frustrated and were preparing to see their team exit before the Super 8’s nearly with all the talent present in the form of Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Misbah struggling so far in the tournament. – Pakistan enters in a Do or Die Situation where only Winning could keep them alive in this World Cup.
There is a Famous Quote – “History Repeats Itself” – Pakistan = The Cricket Team had faced a similar situation in the 1992 World Cup Pakistan lost three of their first five games and would probably have been eliminated but for the Adelaide game against England being rained off. The revival started with convincing victories over Australia and Sri Lanka at the WACA, before back-to-back wins against highly fancied New Zealand put them into the final. Wasim Akram’s mastery of swing did the rest.
If it was Wasim Akram in 1992, This time for the first time – Pakistan had many match winners – Gul, Afridi, Ajmal, Aamir & Razzaq who revived the complete turn around and scripted a grand revival for Team Pakistan & especially for Younis Khan, New Zealand was blown away by accurate deadly yorkers of Umar Gul which tore the Kiwi batting to shreds, Ireland was taken care off with a joint team effort and Pakistan qualified for the Semi Finals. This time they had to play South Africa who were undefeated in the tournament and looked a balanced side with the punters predicting this side as the potential tournament winner. But Sadly for them One Man discovered his form with the bat – Shahid Afridi – The Man known as Boom Boom Afridi – with the potential & sheer talent by which he can blow any bowler away, who till this match was struggling even to get to a double figure score. he comes to bat at No.3 and plays a rather subdued and mature inning & compiles a fifty & later delivers two knock out punches with his quick leg spin by dismissing inform South African batsmen – Gibbs & A.B De’Villiers by knocking their stumps back & raising his left arm in triumph towards the crowd – South Africa never recover from this blow & Pakistan becomes the only team in T20 Cricket World Cup history so far by qualifying to the finals of the World T20 for the second time.
Sri Lanka being the other team apart from South Africa to remain undefeated in the tournament so far with its Opening batsman – Dilshan being the highest run getter & who gets better with each game invents a new kind of slog – scoop pull over the keeper’s head leaving the opposition bowlers bewildered, with the middle order ably supported by Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene & Chamara Silva. With its’ bowlers in great form especially the 3 M’s – Malinga. Muralitharan & Mendis, And after the Semi Final drubbing which they handed over to West Indies – It clearly became the hot favourites of the punters and Cricket experts alike as the most balanced side with an inform batting attack capable of defending any total & the batting lineup clearly in form to chase any total. – The Odds favouring Sri Lanka & once again Pakistan became the Underdog – A Situation which the team loves as they can play with any preassure and only with the intention of Winning.
Two years ago against India, in the inaugural World Twenty20 final in Johannesburg, Pakistan blew their chance for glory when Misbah-ul-Haq choked on his emotions at the end of a stunning match-turning counterattack, and chose the wrong ball to flick over fine leg. Pakistan were committed not to repeat it this time.
And When the Final did start – Pakistan produced a totally different kind of Performance – Which not only stunned the Sri Lankan Batsmen but also the World, A Performance which was Clinical, professional and un-Pakistani !! Resolute. Restrained. Mature. Measured. Not in the most bizarre of your dreams would you associate these words with Afridi. But those very words summed up his performance today. He wanted the responsibility, he grabbed it and fulfilled it. And his approach to the game was a microcosm of how Pakistani played the final.
It was a clinical, thought-out and utterly professional display. Very un-Pakistani. Yorkers didn’t thud in to the pads or uproot stumps; there were no magic moments from the spinners either; and the ball didn’t fly over the ropes. Bowlers stuck to the game plan and mixed short length deliveries on a regular basis, batsmen relied more on single’s & two’s, formed partnerships & again it was the Boom Boom Man – Shahid Afridi – Resolute. Restrained. Mature. Measured. Not in the most bizarre of your dreams would you associate these words with Afridi. But those very words summed up his performance today. He wanted the responsibility, he grabbed it and fulfilled it. And his approach to the game was a microcosm of how Pakistani played the final. His consecutive magical performances both with the ball & the bat in the semi finals and final made the huge difference & enabled Pakistan to be crowned as the Twenty20 Champions.
And as Wasim Akram had rightly written in his column that to bring out the best in Afridi, pamper him – tell him he is important – give him his freedom & he will perform and Perform he did and that too at such a stage which will be forever recorded in the history of Pakistan Cricket – The Day when Pakistan bought it’s second World Cup Home after 17 years.Younis Khan followed in the footsteps of his hero Imran Khan and lifted a World Cup for Pakistan. Each intervening year has made this victory sweeter. Younis also followed his hero in two other ways. First, he managed to pull together a disjointed Pakistan team into a world beating unit. Second, he announced his retirement–but only from Twenty20 cricket.
He may as well. How can you beat the drama of this moment? The past years of desperation in Pakistan; isolation in international cricket. No cricket ground you can call home. A nomadic life with sporadic international cricket.
At the end Younis Khan dedicated the victory to Bob Woolmer, his mentor, and to the long-suffering people of his homeland. And Thus Younis has now stepped aside from Twenty20 cricket, much as Imran Khan bowed out on a high in 1992. For all his quiet insistence that this competition lacks the prestige of the 50-over World Cup, he knows that he and his players have achieved something wonderful, and every bit as lasting as the memories forged by Imran, Miandad, Wasim and Mushtaq, way back in the mists of time.
“I’m the second Khan winning a World Cup for Pakistan, so I’m very proud of my Khans,” said Younis. “This is my dream. I dreamed all the time of lifting the World Cup. My thinking in all my career is that I will be remembered for a team like 1992. I was not in the Imran Khan team, and this is a dream come true. I’m really happy. Though this World Cup is Twenty20, at least we won our second World Cup. This is a gift to our whole nation.”
A Rise of A Team Like a Phoenix – From Being Called as an Underdog to Eventually be Crowned as a World Champion.