Thank you Zimbabwe, your determination was truly heroic
It ended in a way that it should not have; with logistical problems and the unpredictable weather having the final say. But even during these anticlimactic moments, the impact of the series will not be forgotten anytime soon. After a dry spell of six years, international cricket had returned to the green land.
Normally, a series between the ninth and 10th ranked sides in the world would not generate much interest amongst cricket lovers and fans, but this was no ordinary series. This series allowed our Pakistani players to play in their home ground and in front of their people, who were longing to see their heroes perform live since 2009.
The One Day International (ODI) series between Pakistan and Zimbabwe allowed quite a few Pakistani players to debut at home since Saeed Ajmal’s debut performance a whopping seven years ago in 2008. Players such as Babar Azam didn’t have to be told twice about what a monumental opportunity this was, as he soared towards a debut of 50 runs, helping Pakistan amass 296 in the final ODI. Mukhtar Ahmed, another debutant in the T20 series, also got a chance to showcase his true potential as a dynamic opener. Here’s to hoping he gets an opportunity to play an ODI game soon.
The ODI series also afforded Azhar Ali a chance to display his captaincy and batsmanship, sending a message to his critics that he can live up to modern standards of cricket.
It is about time Pakistanis learnt that the game has evolved to a point where 250 is a subpar score and at least 300 should be required whatever may come, and what better place to learn this lesson than on your home ground and on pitches which they know like the back of their hands. The series also allowed Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik to launch themselves into international form and gain confidence, which will eventually serve the team in their quest to qualify for the Champions Trophy.
A low point of the series was the bowling attack; once the lynchpin of Pakistan’s success, our bowling attack has witnessed a steady decline – especially amongst the fast bowlers. To be fair to them, Gaddafi Stadium’s pitch is as dead as they come; a paradise for batting. Hopefully, with Junaid Khan returning from his injury, Wahab Riaz’s effort to constantly improve his game and Mohammad Aamir waiting in the wings till September, bowling might hopefully regain its lost aura. I still think a fit and firing Umar Gul getting his yorkers in is the need of the hour.
The weather robbed Pakistan off a chance to win 3-0, a whitewash, and consolidate its position in its quest for the Champions Trophy qualification. As if to bemoan the imminent departure of Zimbabwe, a team that has brought so much joy to the Pakistani fans, the heavens opened up on the last night leaving the fans scurrying to find shelter. But even this could not take away the gratitude that the fans felt towards Zimbabwe, symbolised by Hamilton Masakadza standing during the presentation in a turban.
Thank you Zimbabwe, for showing the courage to come to Pakistan and prove to the world that it is about time and safe enough for international teams to start visiting our country again. Your determination and the fact that you stayed despite an attempted suicide bombing during the second ODI, leaving one dead, was truly heroic.
With the confidence gained from this home performance, Pakistan will now head to Sri Lanka with a single aim of qualifying for the Champions Trophy and prove once again that we are a team that thrives in adversity.
It is time to paint the yellow lions green.
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