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Not used to victory, are we?

Pakistan’s three-match win streak in the T20 World Cup seems to have caught most fans off-balance

By Rabeea Saleem |
PUBLISHED October 31, 2021

Pakistan won against India in a World cup match with 10 wickets in hand. Seems like stuff dreams are made of, doesn’t it? Ask anyone how they felt immediately after the victory sunk in and they will tell you they felt numb.

This was not a typical Pakistani game. The notoriously “mercurial” side seemed like a whole different team throughout the game. Usually, Pakistan tend to lose the script when it comes to high pressure matches against India, with the batting line-up infamously falling like dominoes by the middle of the innings. Not in this game though.

There was no last-minute meltdown, no frenzied self-sabotage, no slapdash field decisions. Pakistan secured a win for the ages by winning the match in the most unpredictable way - by playing better cricket on the day.

Chasing a target of 152, the formidable opening partnership of Mohammad Rizwan (78*) and captain Babar Azam (68*) enabled Pakistan to hammer their arch rivals by 10 wickets, marking the end of a 29 year losing streak against India in a World Cup match. This loss is also India's first ever 10 wicket defeat in t20 internationals.

The jinx has lifted and that too, at a time when the whole nation needed some uplifting. The odds were stacked high against us. Pakistan had a turbulent run-up to the World Cup, with eleventh-hour management changes and team reshuffles, besides England and New Zealand unceremoniously withdrawing from tours of the country.

In such circumstances, the emphatic win left cricket fans dumbfounded. In the 17th over, the Men in Green required only 2 runs from 14 balls with 10 wickets in hand. Fans of any other team would have started the celebrations. Not Pakistani cricket team fans though. Years of having their hopes thrashed due to their side inexplicably losing after having the game in the bag had primed them to always be mentally prepared for a loss. After Babar finally hit the winning run, the fans went into a meltdown but it was interesting to see the contrasting reactions.

While the fans in the street resorted to celebrating in the only way they know how - by causing traffic jams and aerial gunshots, Twitteratis were absolutely stumped to see their team actually win. Usually during a big stage game, they are prepared with memes in their arsenal to counter trolls or as their go-to coping mechanism in case of a soul-crushing defeat. Not having to use that defence mechanism left many with existential crises. Did that actually happen? Is this reality or am I on a weird trip? Several Green shirts fans on Twitter were left numb or at a loss of words that their team delivered a strategically sound win.

The icing on the cake was that a mere 48 hours later, Pakistan continued their winning streak by beating New Zealand. This win was less perfect due to our wobbly middle order. This match was standard fare with the green caps clinching the game in the last overs.

This victory was particularly heartening because of the crushing blows Pakistan received recently after an eleventh hour tour cancellation from the Black Caps, citing security concerns. The decision left many fuming, with millions of cricket fans disappointed and Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja threatening to take the matter before the ICC. Earlier England’s Cricket Board had also cancelled its men’s and women’s white-ball tours of Pakistan due to concerns over “mental and physical wellbeing”. These were crushing blows to Pakistan’s aspirations of having cricket at home, which had been rekindled by hosting international players in PSL.

Therefore, beating New Zealand in a high-stakes game felt like redemption. Jibran Nasir, activist and lawyer tweeted "Dear world you can try [to] keep the game out of Pakistan but you can't keep Pakistan out of the game. Pakistan is Cricket. Cricket is Pakistan.”

The winning streak of Pakistan had cricket legends cheering them as the favorites of the tournament. "What a statement Pakistan just made in the #ICCT20WorldCup2021. Now favourites in my opinion after that emphatic win over India. Just a super all round & impressive performance," Shane Warne tweeted. Michael Vaughan tweeted, “Pakistan are looking exceptional .. They will reach the Semis .. all other teams will will hope to avoid them & pray that whoever gets them knocks them out before the final .. Love watching them play Cricket .”

Each country has its own unique brand of national sense of humor. The British are known for their razor sharp sarcasm and irony, Americans are great at physical comedy and Japanese enjoy puns and wordplay. Arguably, Pakistanis revel in mordant, self-deprecating humor, grounded in stark reality. Whenever there is any sort of a crisis whether it be torrential rain and urban flooding in Karachi, a political clash or a nationwide power blackout, memes salvage the day by making light of our collective misery. I remember seeing a handful of “Pakistan loses the match but wins the internet” articles on the web the last time we lost a crucial match. In the case of the Kiwi’s win, there was a deluge of memes on the theme of “security” which ranged from funny to downright brutal. Psychologists regard humor as the highest adaptive defense mechanism to ward off aggression or hostility. Luckily for us, we have it in spades. That being said, here’s hoping that we do not have to utilize this defence mechanism for the remainder of this tournament.