“You live by the sword and you die by the sword. Our effort is always for the flag”
Remarked a rather spirited Misbah-ul-Haq as he answered Michael Atherton’s question about scoring one of the most memorable century at Lord’s and following it with a duck in the next innings. True to Misbah’s nature, there was redemption in his tone and his vintage sense of gratitude was definitely oozing out strongly from his deeply emotional speech. Michael Vaughan said on Facebook that this was the best century celebration and team celebration that he had ever seen on a Cricket pitch. That says a lot about the sense of belief that Misbah has infused in the team. Misbah’s team has defeated England fair and square at Lord’s.
Mohammad Amir, which I am sure needs no introduction fittingly broke through Jake Ball’s defence to seal one of the greatest victories in Test Cricket. Younis Khan, the legend that rarely likes to be in spotlight, immediately decided to be the acting drill sergeant as he instructed the squad to arrange themselves in crisp formations for the salute to the flag and the now enormously famous “pushup celebrations”
Returns in sports are seldom about poetic justice and more so with Pakistan – the eternally unpredictable team in the world Cricket. You know Pakistan has always had top class talent and the gold mine located somewhere in the suburbs of Pakistan producing world-class bowlers has not dried up any means. Chuck the cunning Saeed Ajmal out and in walks the enormously impressive leggie, the new smiling assassin Yasir Shah.
The is a certain romance in his bowling and a tinge of nostalgia, his run up is hugely inspired by the former leggie Abdul Qadir and is a silent reminder of Pakistan’s legacy of the yesteryears.He walks in and gives the impression that he is always enjoying the game. Unlike his predecessor, Mushtaq Ahmed, there are no visible signs of frustration in his game. The bag of tricks is important but not more than the attitude of a leggie. The world number test bowler being assigned to Yasir is his well-deserved reward.
Wahab Riaz is the commander-in-chief of the renowned pace battery of Pakistan. He is a genuine fast bowler capable of moving both the new and old ball at seriously red hot pace. There is experience in the form of Younis, there is fresh talent in from of Shafiq and Masood and there is pugnacity in the form of Sarfraz and there is defiance in the form of Misbah. Finally, this team looks like a team and not 11 individuals instructed to play together by PCB.
Mickey Arthur, Grant Flower, Mushtaq Ahmed form the nucleus of the Pakistan’s team ideology. The future looks bright if they continue to show the same level of commitment as they did at Lord’s. The greater challenge for any Pakistan coach is to remain controversy-free and be able to communicate effectively with all members of the squad. This is where the old pro, Mushtaq Ahmed is a wise choice by PCB. Capable of conversing in English, Urdu and Punjabi, he is the ideal interface to get the team to gel well together.
What this win would accomplish?
No doubt that there has been a sense of departing of Pakistani supporters’ trust on their national players post the 2010 fiasco. Though PCB has introduced stringent measures to curb unfair practices, they largely remain hidden from the eyes of a normal spectator. Forced to play a major chunk of the tests on the rather one-dimension pitches in UAE, the Asian team has seldom gotten chances to try out different permutations and combinations of players and strategies.
It is as if Pakistan just goes to UAE with a pre-determined mindset and hopes to win games. The attendances in UAE are hardly worth a mention and it, therefore, leads to a drop in the vibe of a five-day thriller. Considering, the massive following of the ongoing series and capacity crowds that went into a state of pure jubilation as soon as Aamir took off in his signature Helicopter Celebration, this win will definitely bring back interest in Pakistan’s test cricket. The historic 75 run win will buy back the lost trust and uplift the willpower of players to achieve more and more for the country, especially when playing on the foreign lands.
Still, a long way to go
I hope that my excitement over Pakistan’s crushing defeat of England does not jinx the beautiful tide that they are riding on. But as they say – Those who do not learn from history are bound to condemn it. England knows its backyard really well, even though they are hardly the Lords when it comes to Lord’s. They were handed over soul-crushing defeats at the same venue by India and the old foe- Australia but they managed to come back and script historic test series victories.
The Pakistani team, as the past would point out, has a tendency to be complacent and lose the momentum. The series is far from over and the return of Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes is bound to make the battle an even more interesting one. Don’t be surprised if Jimmy and Wahab indulge in little bit of “friendly-chat” while sending down thunderbolts down the spines of the opposition’s batsmen.
The captains of both the teams are very studious in nature and will definitely pick up any and every chink in the armor of the opposition. In totality, I believe that it will be a test series to remember. The series so far has lived up to the expectations. The summer is on for the Brits and they are definitely feeling the heat but if there is one thing they know how to defend, it is the Queen’s own backyard.
Cheers to a very well-deserved Pakistani victory!