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Celebrating Pakistani Cricket


(This article was first published immediately after Pakistan's semi-final victory, but its chief emotion is more relevant now. We republish it as an ode to Pakistan's World Cup win)

Imagine, on one hand, wanting to shout out loud in joy, and on the other, wanting to shout in fear and terror. Imagine having to sift out the sound of crackers from in between the sound of bombs. Imagine being in Pakistan.

Reaching back-to-back finals in a major international cricket tournament is something only Australia has achieved in recent times, having taken the reign over from the West Indies, who probably provided the most ‘fun’, with their raw, free-flowing, throw-method-to-the-winds cricket. Pakistan have done it now, and there couldn’t have been a better time for it.

At a time when Pakistani cricket is gasping for breath, this win puts Pakistan right back on the cricketing map. A key member of the precious 9 member group has perhaps agreed to stay back at the party for a little longer.

Given the players’ and support staffs complicated personal problems, security issues and the forced ostracizing by the rest of the cricket world, this team has achieved something phenomenal. Perhaps today’s win is more meaningful than even winning the cup – reaching the finals twice in a row in a format as unpredictable as T20 is a bigger mark of consistency than actually winning one trophy – as India have, for instance. Winning, of course, will put the icing on the cake. But irrespective of what happens on Sunday, this is a massive achievement for each individual involved - be it the cricketers, the support staff or for that matter even the true fans out there.

Afridi has to be the star. Not for his match winning performance. But for the genuine twinkle in his eyes every time he is given a platform to perform. He has been the true talisman of the team. Raw, hungry, sensational, pumped up, choosing to celebrate his gifts rather than brood over his failings, lifting the morale of the team. At this precise moment in time, Afridi embodies everything that is good and glorious about sport.

Pakistan’s cricket has been a true microcosm of their country at many levels. Turmoil surrounding several flashes of brilliance. They manage to conjure up sensational cock-ups (the Akhtar stories – all 3000 of them, Mohammad Asif). But at same levels, they display tremendous fight and confidence. This arrangement works against them more often than not. But when it does click, when the spirit does flow, it usually makes up for all the lost times.

If West Indies make it to finals, it will be a tough call in terms of whom to support (except for their respective countrymen), but irrespective of who wins, it will indeed be a dream final. Both teams, at their best, celebrate the spirit of free, pure, cricket, the beauty of unorganized madness, the sheer unrestricted outflow of talent.  A better result than the usual suspects Australia or India winning, at any rate

(Click here to know more about Jatin)

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