Team Pakistan halted one of the longest losing streaks in the game of cricket on Sunday, beating India at a World Cup for the first time in 13 encounters. The losing streak, which began in 1992, was ended in spectacular fashion as the team thoroughly dominated on the way to a 10-wicket victory. One illustration of how dominant the men in green were is that it was Pakistan’s first-ever 10-wicket win and India’s first-ever loss by that margin in a T20 international. Man of the match Shaheen Afridi’s three-wicket haul included both openers within the first three overs to cripple India early, before Pakistan openers Mohammad Rizwan and captain Babar Azam trampled the Indian bowlers, reaching the 152-run target with more than two overs to spare.
The performance was almost textbook excellence, with the Green Shirts taking early wickets and keeping India from getting any momentum going in the early overs. This allowed the Babar Azam's men to keep the total in check despite strong performances from captain Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant. Still, Team Pakistan has not had much success chasing in T20 matches in the UAE, only once having gotten to a target over 150. A relatively slow start caused nervousness among some fans, but as soon as the opening duo settled in, the middle overs saw both unleash their attacking flair, and the match was in the bag by the 14th over.
In a country where cricket is almost a religion and good news — sporting or otherwise — has been hard to come by in the recent past, the victory was a much-needed reason to celebrate. It was also a reminder of how unifying the game is — political rivals, liberals, conservatives, Lahoris, Karachiites, pulao fans and biryani fans all had something they could get together and get behind. Though we are only one match into the World Cup, Team Pakistan has shown that they are genuine contenders going forward. We must also commend skipper Azam, who appeared to tell his team not to celebrate too much, because it is just one win, and his eyes are on the cup.
We also hope that the performance serves as a reminder to other cricketing nations that refusing or cancelling tours of Pakistan hurts them as much as it hurts us.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2021.
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