KARACHI: Mercurial Pakistan were at their unpredictable best in the do-or-die Asia Cup encounter against India, the biggest of the ‘Big Three’ of international cricket.
Towards the end of the thriller, Pakistan were down and out with 10 needed off five balls. At the crease was the enigmatic Shahid Afridi. The Afridi whirlwind began as a frenzied crowd watched with bated breath. Two strikes, two agonisingly short sixes that barely cleared the ropes, and Pakistan clinched a goosebump-ish win.
The men-in-green knocked out the powerful India, a team that is said to be responsible for 80% revenue that the International Cricket Council (ICC) earns. Unless a major upset occurs over the next few days, Pakistan will most likely face Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final, while Virat Kohli’s men will head home.
Afridi’s heroics are set to endear him to his fans again. A man who has often been criticised for his approach has perhaps buried the ghosts of the past with a performance that revived memories of Javed Miandad’s last-ball six in Sharjah all those years ago. The stunning win has also rekindled the belief that Pakistan cricket is alive and kicking despite their supposed isolation due to the vehement opposition to the reforms in the governing body of the game ala ‘Big Three’ the national team continues to dazzle on the field.
While Asia Cup is not yet won, the national team has indeed won the hearts of its massive fan club that transcends all ethnic divides, across Pakistan. Frenzied celebrations began across the country as Afridi & Co raised their arms aloft after vanquishing their archrivals.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2014.
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