The Pakistan cricket team returned to a heroes’ welcome after winning the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series 2-1, and levelling the two-match Twenty20 series against arch-rivals India.
Dozens of cricket enthusiasts, friends and family members besides the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials gathered at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport to greet the team as it arrived from New Delhi yesterday.
Speaking upon his return, Pakistan’s Test and ODI captain Misbahul Haq credited the team’s effort for putting up an impressive performance.
“All the players deserve credit,” said Misbah, before praising the trio of Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan and Nasir Jamshed. “It wasn’t easy to beat India at their home grounds especially after their recent performances against us before this series.”
Misbah, while commenting on the New Delhi loss, played down the notion that the team fell prey to complacency.
“We weren’t relaxed. We were determined for a clean sweep and played with all our strength. India should be praised also for fighting back and playing well.”
Mission accomplished: Hafeez
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez said the team had achieved the task which was set before the series.
“We were desperate to give a good performance and I am happy we reached our goal,” said the all-rounder.
Hafeez, who also climbed up to the top of the all-rounders’ rankings released by the International Cricket Council yesterday, showed gratitude towards the coaches and support staff for this accomplishment.
Mohsin rues missed opportunity
Meanwhile, former coach Mohsin Khan rued the ineptness of Pakistan’s batting in the final ODI as they lost their chance of a clean sweep against India after restricting the hosts to an ordinary total.
“Our middle-order batting failed under pressure again,” said Mohsin. “Even two of them could have done the job but our batsmen failed to show responsibility. Umar Akmal threw away his wicket which wasn’t for the first time.”
Umar Akmal was a disappointment: Akram
Former captain Wasim Akram, while reviewing the series, said he was disappointed with Umar’s performance.
“Umar may be talented, but he needs to learn to win matches,” said Wasim.
“However, Mohammad Hafeez displayed a great performance. He is becoming better as a captain and an all-rounder. With his presence, I now feel Pakistan’s future is safe.”
He was also content with Junaid, Irfan and Jamshed.
“Jamshed has got the perfect start. He is a good talent but he’ll have to take care of his fitness and fielding. He is a good prospect for the team. On the other hand, Junaid was phenomenal while Irfan also made quite an impression. However, Irfan will have to work on his fitness due to his height.”
“We weren’t relaxed. In fact, we were determined for a clean sweep — that is why we played with all our strength. India should be praised also since they fought back and played quite well.”
“We were desperate to give a good performance and I am happy we reached our goal. “It’s due to Allah’s grace. I am also thankful to all the coaches and support staff, that was of tremendous help to us throughout the tour.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2013.
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I predicted without prejudice that Pakistan would win the series. Pakistan did. My heartiest best wishes for the team and the fans. The series was enjoyable and close. Best of luck to cricket in 2013. I hope and wish Sachin Tendulkar to play his 200th Test in Pakistan where he played his first Test in 1989. I believe Sachin will announce his retirement in Pakistan later this (2013 ) year.
Pakistan clearly 'threw' the last match in the interests of better relations between the two countries. Under the circumstances, a good move.
Can you imagine how the Indians would have sulked if they had lost 3-0?!
Dude, we wanted a white wash. You guys didn't even try. What a disappointment.
Good job boys, team looked so much better all of the sudded. There are still concerns in batting area.
Hoefully team will complete series sweeps in future - especially when they are so close to accomplishing it.