Sports: underdogs and underestimated

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    Yet Pakistanis prove their mettle in 2014

    Pakistan, the land of immense talent, displayed some surprising sporting performances, making 2014 a year to remember. Marred by lack of resources and opportunities, sportsmen showed that sheer hard work with a mix of luck can do miracles. Not only men but women also stood out, making the nation proud at many events.

    Being a very emotional nation when it comes to sports, Pakistanis celebrated many victories throughout the year that brought happiness to a nation which otherwise is struck with menace of terrorism, corruption and lawlessness.

    Underdogs in various games, they still proved that this nation can come out strong and do the impossible. Players showed the spirit which Pakistan’s cornered tigers in 1992 Cricket world cup displayed under the leadership of Imran Khan.

    Here are a few instances that made Pakistan proud as a nation:

    You named him ‘tuk tuk’? Think again

    The king of playing dot balls, Misbah-ul-Haq, ironically equaled the 28-year-old world record of fastest Test hundred set by West Indian legend Viv Richards against England at Antigua in 1986. Spending 74 minutes at the crease, Misbah hit five sixes and 11 fours to achieve this feat.

    Sajjad makes it to the final of IBSF

    Pakistan’s top ace cueist Muhammad Sajjad made his mark in the international arena by reaching the finals of IBSF Snooker Championship.

    Though he was outsmarted by 14-year-old Chinese snooker sensation Yan Bingtao in the finals, the Sargodha-born had already proved his mettle by thrashing Zhao Xin Tong of China in the semi-final and India’s Manan Chandra of India in the quarters. Sajjad displayed quality tactical snooker and masterly cue control.

    Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi

    Pakistan’s Kabbadi team reached the final of 5th Kabaddi World Cup played in India. Though the team lost to India in the controversial final, it tamed Iran in the semis, beating them by a score of 56-28. In the group stage, they edged out Denmark, England, Canada, Sweden and Argentina to emerge as group winners with ten points.

    International Kabaddi Federation (IKF), however, said that the Kabbadi The world cup was an unofficial tournament and also exposed limits about the umpiring in the final of the event played between hosts India and Pakistan.

    Samina Baig on top of the world

    While men achieved various feats in 2014, women didn’t stay far behind. Samina Baig set the record of capturing the seven summits at a record age of 23 years and in record time. She made the nation proud by hoisting the green flag on the seven summits.

    She conquered Mount McKinley, Mount Elbrus from July 3 to July 24, Indonesia’s highest peak Carstensz Pyramid in March 2014, and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in February 2014.

    In January 2014, she conquered Mount Vinson Mount Vinson in the planet’s southernmost continent as part of a five-member team and Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak of South America in Argentina, in December 2013.

    Samina Baig was accompanied by Mirza Ali on the seven summits adventure. She is the first Pakistani woman and the third Pakistani to climb Mount Everest. She is also the youngest Muslim woman to climb Everest, having done so at the age of 21.

    Pakistan cricket ends 20-year drought

    2014 saw Pakistan’s rise in Test cricket as they ended a 20-year drought by defeating Australia in a bilateral series. Senior players like Misbah and Younis Khan made their comebacks by scoring multiple centuries during the series. Hurt with the absence of ‘doosra-magician’ Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah took charge and ‘green washed’ Kangaroos in the series. This was the Aussies’ worst humiliation in terms of average differential (batting average minus bowling average).

    Pakistan raises its hockey sticks

    A cash-strapped and clueless Pakistan hockey team surprisingly reached the finals of Hockey Champions Trophy played in India. The team lost in the finals to Germany but they beat the arch-rivals India in the semis by 4-3. Pakistan celebrated the victory by taking off their shirts and booing the crowd. The team was congratulated by all the political and military leadership for bringing down the Indian team.

    Street Child World Cup: Pakistani kids win a lot of hearts

    Who thought street children from Pakistan would rise to such fame. Little flowers from Pakistan made a mark in the international arena by making it to the semi finals of Street Child World Cup played in Rio, Brazil. The team comprised Sameer Ahmed, Abdul Raziq, Aurangzeb Baba, Salman Hussain, Owais Ali, Quetta’s Faizan Fayyaz, Muhammad Shoaib, Mehr Ali and Rajab Ali.

    The team was lauded even by a coach from England who works with English Premier League clubs. Abdul Raziq and Aurangzeb Baba surprised the world with their individual performances.

    Downed by Burundi 4-3 in the semis, the team topped Group Three, scoring 18 goals in their four matches against teams including India (13-0), Kenya (2-0) Mauritius (3-0) and playing a draw with the US (1-1) in their campaign to qualify for the quarter-finals. They then defeated the Philippines 3-2 to progress into the semi-finals of the even-a-side tournament. Pakistan remained the best team in terms of goal average. They scored 19 goals and conceded only one against the US, which was an own goal in the unfortunate moment by a Pakistani defender.

    Women Kabbadi team wins bronze

    Pakistan Women Kabbadi Team achieved a unique feat in Kabbadi which is thought to be a game of men. Matching the performance of Men Kabbadi Team, Pakistan’s Women Kabbadi Team defeated Denmark to grab the third position in the 2014 Kabaddi World Cup played in India. Pakistan scored 38 points, whereas the Danish women team managed to score only 28. Pakistan women resorted to aggressive gameplay and dominated the match throughout the second half.

    TIMELINE

    April 6: Pakistan Street Children reach semi finals of Street Child Football World Cup.

    July 24: Samina Baig, Pakistan’s youngest mountaineer, completes the challenge of climbing seven of the highest mountains around the world.

    November 2: Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s skipper, levels the world record of fastest Test hundred.

    November 2: Pakistan ends 20-year drought of beating Australia in a bilateral Test series.

    November 28: Pakistan Snooker ace cueist Muhammad Sajjad beats his Chinese opponent in IBSF Snooker C’ship.

    December 13: Pakistan beat India in semi final of Hockey Champions Trophy.

    December 19: Pakistan Women Kabbadi team wins bronze medal in Kabbadi World cup

    December 20: Pakistan Kabbadi team reaches the final of Kabbadi World Cup.