Reliving history, uniting a nation: Miandad's “chakka” and Afridi immortalised
Ever since I can remember, people have spoken about the Miandad “chakka”.
India versus Pakistan.
The holy grail of all rivalries.
A target of 246.
The sacred Sharjah ground.
Women and children prayed.
One wicket remained.
It was the last ball of the final over and six runs were needed to win.
Miandad hit the winning six and was forever immortalised winning the hearts of an entire nation.
That was 1986.
In 2014, 28 years later Pakistan beat India in perhaps the best match my generation has ever witnessed in their lifetime. The similarities have been plastered everywhere, ludicrous stats thrown together with Shahid Afridi being the man of the hour.
Pakistan, quite literally, recreated history.
The same target, same rivals, one wicket and the final over.
Heart patients probably had to double their dosage in those final moments as Afridi so perfectly mishit Ravichandran Ashwin’s ball and yet somehow, someway be it through physical strength or sheer luck, it made it across the rope.
As fireworks went off in different parts of the country and people danced on the streets, there was a realisation that in 2014, this victory meant so much more.
Today’s cricket climate is different.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is facing an uphill task with the Big Three. The rivalry against India is more intense. Cricket is slewed with more money and more controversy than ever before. Yet India with all its power wasn’t able to take our victory.
Out on the field, only talent and nerves matter.
The Indian cricket team fought valiantly but perhaps Virat Kohli just couldn’t take the pressure. In his press conference, Kohli talks about how inexperienced his side is compared to our experienced men. Junaid Khan is young. Mohammad Talha was a debutant. Kohli’s double Ahmed Shahzad is 22. Umar Gul has just returned from an injury. Amit Mishra is far from inexperienced and Dinesh Karthik has been in the squad for over 10 years.
It was a matter of excuses and India is fast running out of them.
For all the slack the Pakistan cricket team gets for our batting, our bowling is world class.
Yes, we cannot chase massive totals. Yes, looking at some of the most ridiculous statistics I have ever seen during this tournament between the win percentages and chance creations, Pakistan may seem like they are on a back footing but Sunday was absolutely glorious.
As a nation, we expect 11 men on a field to solve our country’s problems.
We believe in the power of cricket, the glue it serves. We place unrealistic expectations and an immense amount of pressure on the men we consider our heroes. There is no secularism, no terrorism; there is only jazba and the sole unifying purpose to take down the men in blue. Perhaps the responsibility they shoulder is unfair, perhaps emotionally investing ourselves in a game will only lead to future health problems but nothing in the world compares to a victory so beautifully scripted in the most dramatic fashion.
It is a tall order, a lot to ask of a sport and yet something magical happens from time to time and you sense the hope, the irrational belief and we begin to heal again.
You didn’t have to be a cricket fan to understand what the victory did for the people of Pakistan. You didn’t need to know a single rule of the game. All you had to do was hear the frantic prayers and witness the tears, the anguish, the heartbreak, the love and the pure unadulterated joy.
Thank you team Pakistan for giving my generation a match we will remember for all time.
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