It would be easy for Pakistan to be churlish about the just-concluded World Cup. This was a tournament that we were supposed to co-host along with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The bitter defeat to India only rubbed salt in the still-festering wound. Now, however, is not the time to dwell on that. Partly because of the excitement and verve the Pakistani team added to the tournament, this edition of the World Cup is being considered one of the most successful yet. For nearly five weeks, the cricket world was held rapt with attention as one exciting match followed another, culminating with a final between India and Sri Lanka, the two best teams in the tournament.
As pre-tournament favourites, India lived up to its reputation, but not without a few hiccups during the journey. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team deserve all the praise in the world for not choking despite the intense hype and media scrutiny that accompanied their every move. No true fan of cricket could fail to have been moved by the sheer joy on Sachin Tendulkar’s face as he captured the one glory that has eluded him. That two giants of the game, Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralitharan, played their last World Cup game in the final also warmed the hearts of all cricket lovers. Few men have done as much for cricket in South Asia, and indeed the world, as these two men. Future World Cups will be all the worse for their absence.
The hosts all deserve kudos for defying the sceptics. Before the tournament began, it was feared that it would be a run-fest that gave nothing but heartache to the bowlers. But as Shahid Afridi, Zaheer Khan and Dale Steyn showed, the contest between bat and ball was evenly matched. Our team may not have won, but as cliché as this phrase has become, cricket truly was the winner this time around.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2011.