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Friday, January 20, 2012

A glorious win to cherish for ever

By Abdul Majid Bhatti (Geo Super)
The win in Dubai against England has turned a new page in Pakistan cricket

I am sure I am not the only one who never writes Pakistan off, even when they are on the edges of extinction. The most unpredictable yet most dangerous cricket team never fails to surprise. After a tumultuous 2010 and a dreadful time since the attack on Sri Lankan team bus when Pakistan was declared zona non grata, few would have thought they would put world’s best Test side on the mat.
England had never lost a match in almost two years, yet they capitulated against a spirited Pakistan side inside three days. Yes three days on a flat deck! Although Pakistan was on the rise ever since Misbah-ul-Haq took over, this win was almost unthinkable before the tour started. At best they were given good odds to surprise the world’s best side.
This is a very delicate time for Pakistan cricket. I am still not convinced that Pakistan cricket is in safe hands, but a quick flash back to Ijaz Butt’s era gives immense consolation. So far the new PCB management under Zaka Ashraf has shown signs of maturity. They are not jumping on things like their predecessors. Their decision making has been sensible. Their choice of appointing Dav Whatmore despite Mohsin Khan’s apparently good performance is praiseworthy.
The role played by Waqar Younis and Misbah-ul-Haq cannot be overestimated. The good work done by Waqar is still paying off but we need to take off from here. And a qualified foreign coach is what the team needs now. Misbah has transformed this team from an incoherent bunch of cricketers to a well-gelled unit of professional sportsmen. Can he take the team to next level is another big question which only time will tell.
The most satisfying thing about Dubai win is that it came against England, the team with which we had unmemorable rapport of late. Bitter memories from the infamous 2010 tour must have been felt by players on both sides as this tour began. But this win should erase those because both teams now have immediate other issues – cricketing issues – to sort out. The attention should now divert to cricket not credibility.
The spot-fixing saga had shaken our cricket set up as well as the players, but over time they had become battle hardened. The victory in Dubai has sealed that fact. This win is at par with many of our glorious Test victories. It will be cherished much like Delhi 1952, Oval 1954, Sydney 1976, Lords 1982, Faisalabad 1986, Bangalore 1987, Leads 1987, Georgetown 1988, Lords 1992, Lords 1996, Durban 1998, Chennai 1999, Multan 2005, Bangalore 2005 and Oval 2010.
At one point on the second evening, the pitch was being criticized for not being ideal for Test cricket and Nasser Hossain and Waqar Younis were talking about possibility of a tame draw, but quite remarkably the match ended on the third day. Saeed Ajmal’s performance and the way Pakistan batting contributed as a unit signal an exciting new era for Pakistan.
Pakistan should absorb this moment and grab the opportunity. We should make this win a turning point from where we should aim for a new beginning – a beginning of a journey to become best in the world once again.

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