Kiwis tour: Finally, a series win!
Pakistan drew the second test against New Zealand on Wednesday and claimed their first series victory since 2006.
Just when it looked like Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan would make a win or draw for New Zealand inconceivable, the demise of Younus changed the setting; he had held the innings together with a superb and confident 81 runs. But unpredictability is what makes Pakistani cricket truly delightful; the opposition always has a chance. They are rarely locked out completely, and this makes for exciting cricket.
What Younus’s dismissal meant - apart from a chance at victory for New Zealand - was that another 50 runs were not scored, giving way to a century. Since last July, our batsmen scored 50 runs and above around 29 times (including the current match) but just one century. That is probably the worst conversion rate amongst the top 6 test cricket playing nations according to ICC rankings (Pakistan sits at the 6th position currently).
Making a century is as much of an art as the reflection of one’s mindset, and Pakistan has lost that art just like it had forgotten how to win. For four years we had not won a single test series. Last year we won a test match against Australia after 15 painfully long years. But this series win - despite having played against a relatively weak opposition - will surely boost the self-esteem of a team that thrives on confidence. When on a roll, a team which sometimes seems like a collection of confused individuals who often don’t know who will captain them, can be world class players. Having that sense of victory and getting into a winning streak just before the World Cup should send warning signals to all the contenders.
Last year’s cricket scandal gave way to an abundance of criticism against the team and fans felt that a World Cup win was impossible as star players were missing and the team was in disarray. While that may turn out to be true, it is important to remember that we are the only team to reach the semi-finals of the last four ICC events, and have also made it into the finals of two events. That shows consistency like none other.
Why have we forgotten that the two world titles that we hold came about when we had been written off during those tournaments? All it takes for our team to win after repeated losses is one spirit-lifting victory, and once the ball starts rolling, it’s show time. Any of the 15 players selected for the World Cup can produce a startling, mind boggling innings at the death or a fast bowling spell that sticks in memory lanes forever.
The cricketing gods have been cruel to us for long enough. It just may be Pakistan’s time to rise up again!