Beating the unbeatable

  • The wins that helped Pakistanis forget budget woes


Just when green team is written off, it bounces back with a vengeance. With successive wins against South Africa and New Zealand, it made an impressive comeback in the Cricket World Cup, thereby winning hearts and accolades across Pakistan.

Pakistani fans were plunged into the depths of despair with a miserable loss to India. Criticism flowed in from all quarters. The green team’s loss against India extinguished all hopes of Pakistani fans of clinching a single victory against India, its archfoe, for the first time ever in the World Cup history, as previously India had consistently notched up six victories against Pakistan. Skipper Sarfraz was excoriated for yawning, for deciding to bowl first and for putting in a dismal performance. Regrettably, a Pakistani fan verbally abused him, when he was with his son. Later on, he apologised for his rude behaviour to the skipper.

As if taking criticism in its stride, the green team put up a united front against South Africa. The game swung both ways and ultimately Pakistan achieved victory, offering the Pakistani nation a way ahead in a dark alley. Pakistani batsmen put together a massive total of 308 runs for the loss of 7 wickets in 50 overs, while the South African batsmen scored 259 runs for the loss of 9 wickets, thereby licking the dust.

People found themselves drawing a comparison between the 1992 World Cup and the current World Cup, as the green team was ready to take on the undefeatable New Zealand. In the 1992 Cup, Pakistan faced the formidable opponent New Zealand with an all but similar situation, with the Kiwis on a winning streak. The Kiwis lost to Pakistan and the match was played on Wednesday. Call it the long arm of coincidence or term it the repeating of history, Pakistan secured the victory in 2019 by 6 wickets after 27 years, thereby repeating history.

The green team put its heart and soul into every department of the game, be it bowling, fielding or batting. It had a well-thought-out strategy to execute. It played with indomitable spirit, passion and new-found confidence.

New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat first. The match was nail-biting as Pakistani fans was glued to the TV screens to the last ball of the game, paying little to no regard to the APC (all parties conference) held by the opposition on Wednesday. It was a make-or-break opportunity for the green team. In other words, a do-or-die situation.

The green team should not rest on its laurels. The wins against South Africa and New Zealand revived hopes for reaching the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup

The bowlers on the Pakistan side came up with a plan, clipping the wings of New Zealand’s batsmen. They restricted the Kiwis to 237 runs for the loss of six wickets. They made frontal attacks on the Kiwis’ batting line-up. The first Kiwi wicket fell for just five runs, when Mohammad Amir had dismissed the superstar Martin Guptill, bringing smiles to the green team’s faces. The tall young lad, Shaheen Afridi took three wickets against the Kiwis. Captain Sarfraz carried out wicketkeeping with great precision. He took three catches behind the stumps, including a diving catch, and a run out to his credit. In a word, he put the Indian experience behind him and made a new beginning, surging ahead with persistence. The sea of Pakistani fans (which the ICC tweeted about) were beside themselves with joy. They were raising slogans throughout the match to offer constant encouragement to the green team.

Although the Kiwis fought tooth and nail, it was the green team that snatched the victory from the jaws of the defeat. Needless to mention that it was James Neesham who scored 97 runs short of 3 runs to a century in partnership with Colin de Grandhomme, who scored 64. Only five balls were remaining when Pakistani skipper hit a boundary to achieve the total (241/4).

When it comes to batting, the two batsmen, Babar Azam and Haris Sohail were instrumental in making the dream come true against the Kiwis. Together, they forged a partnership of 124 runs.

True to his name, the young Babar Azam stood like a rock on the pitch when it comes to batting. He was quite at ease in smashing towering sixes and fours all across the field. He scored a brilliant century, becoming the second fastest to score 3,000 ODI runs, thereby leaving behind Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Right from the beginning to the very end of his innings, he played well and responsibly, whilst the Pakistan fans present in the stadium in particular, and the Pakistani nation in general, relished each and every moment of his batting.

Winning the match against Kiwis killed two birds with one stone: calmed the frayed nerves of Pakistani nation to some extent, which were reeling from the shock of the budgetary woes and provided a boost to green team, helping improve its position in the World cup ranking chart.

At the end of the day, the green team needs to keep up this winning momentum against Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It should not rest on its laurels. The wins against South Africa and New Zealand revived hopes for reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup. However, the green team should not underestimate its rivals in the upcoming matches, for they are as capable of turning the tables on their rivals as it is. The green team’s coach, Mickey Arthur, should replace Mohammad Hafeez, the chink in its armour, with a younger player, just as he replaced Shoaib Malik with Haris Sohail, who scored two fifties in a row, thereby proving his mettle. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that green team will bring the World Cup home, thereby rejuvenating the memories of the 1992 World Cup.