20Twenty – Through to the Finals

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CONGRATULATIONS to Pakistan for getting through to the 20Twenty World Cup Finals! I ended up watching the match at a Sports Café in London yesterday with about 50 Pakistanis and the energy level, the enthusiasm, and the patriotism was phenomenal throughout the Café. Below, you can see some other interesting perspectives & views on the Semi-Finals by my friends & family as well!

Ijaz Ul Haq
– Unfortunately, while driving back from Lahore, my itinerary disallowed me to view the live telecast. However, on my Blackberry, Cricket loving friends kept me in the picture – ball to ball.

Reaching Sarai Alamgir, my co-travelers refused to move and jumped out of the vehicle to occupy any available space to sit in front of a TV Set at a road-side vending area. On lookers charged enthusiastically and the place resembled an Open Stadium. The Batting, Bowling, Fielding – all excellent, exciting and very thrilling.

Close to the win, a few tense moments were equally thrilling and enjoyable. Hats off to Shahid Afridi and Omar Gul for taking Pakistan and our country to the Victory Stand. We dispersed only after the team walked victorious to the Pavilion.

 To be the Finalist, one has to go through the Semi-finals and now that we have won this – we will also win the final – Insha Allah!  

Sherina Ayub – I must admit it was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch the semi final yesterday evening at the Sports Cafe. South Africa were unbeaten in the tournament and Pakistan’s performance has been well, a typical Pakistani performance – moments of brilliance? Check. Consistency? Not so much.

So I was more than a little nervous, and looking around at the large group of people who had showed up to cheer on Pakistan, I wasn’t the only one. And then the match began – right from the word go there was drama, nerves, celebrations, potential head injuries (at first I thought Gul was over acting but on second viewing that knock DID look kind of painful!) and of course Afridi, on a good day, making it all look so easy, “Half a century? No problem. Couple of wickets? Sure thing. And hey I will even shoot a shampoo commercial while I’m at it”.

And then– ultimately- the pure elation at victory. The crowd watching the match went wild, standing on chairs, dancing, hugging and the cheers of “Pakistan Zindabad” rang out. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that there was real, true happiness in that moment.

But it does make me wonder, why does it matter so much to all of us?? And maybe, in some small way, this is proof that when it comes down to it, we have not all given up on Pakistan, we truly want it to succeed and hope that one day soon we will be celebrating again – and not because we won a sports match

Asem Akhtar – I don’t know what a gully is. Silly mid-on? That just sounds silly. And what is leg-side. Which Leg? Clearly I don’t watch cricket. Or play. But being a Pakistani, it seems to be a very natural part of me. And it was most definitely a part of me yesterday when Pakistan beat South Africa in the semi-finals. I did not watch it – I was at work, but followed the ball-by-ball online text-based commentary. Every minute I’d hit F5 top refresh the screen, in hope to see our boys give our country the much needed hope that we so desperately need at this time. A win would not solve our millions of problems back home. But in this time, when all we hear about is war, death, crime, millions of displaced people, I and I’m sure countless other Pakistanis around the world, looked towards a team of 11 or 12 young people to lift our spirits up and give us a sense of hope. They did that yesterday. They made us proud. Whether someone watched it live in the stadium, on TV, or read about it online like me, I’m sure we all felt the same energy and drive, up to the last ball pitched.

Cricket is as much a symbol of Pakistan, as is Islam, the green and white flag, and the minar-e-pakistan. So with this win, I am hopeful of good times to come in Pakistan, and am thankful to the Pakistan team of providing a symbolic glimmer of hope for our country that was much needed.
Now I need to hit F5 to refresh the golf scores on my screen.

Umair Javed – Needless to say, the T-20 semi-final between our beloved mercurial Pakistan and the methodical scientific South African side was going to be a roller coaster ride. As Pakistani’s, we instinctively believe in miracles, hinge future outcomes on hope and believe that somehow somewhere a knight in shining armor will come and show us the way. Younis’s men, particularly Afridi, did just that yesterday as emotions were at an all time high at the Sports Café in London yesterday, brimming with numerous cautiously optimistic Pakistanis clinging on to the notion of hope in our cricket team and its prospects of defeating the mighty Proteas. The evening ended in sheer jubilation and a nation that has been forced to endure more than its fair share of turbulence, had a reason to rejoice for a change.

 On a personal note, having spent a considerable amount of time in the West, there are times when I find it hard as any young politically conscious Pakistani would, to reconcile the differences between civilizations. Last night I held my head high and wore the colors of green and white on my sleeve with pride.”

Sajila Ansari – Pakistan neh toh kamaal kardeeya! Millions of Pakistanis who have been feeling so low with all that has been going on in the country were uplifted and we got the opportunity to see the love and pride for our motherland in those few hours. We also saw a few Pakistanis coming into the Sports Bar in their suits, designer handbags, and Gucci shopping bags but in the end – sab keh sab pindi keh cheetay aur lahori tigers hee nikleh! Pakistan Zindabad!

Ebrahim Saeed: Last evening’s performance saw Pakistan break through to the finals – a nation sighs with relief and Pakistani’s celebrate loudly and proudly for a change. Against the odds, an increasingly common phrase used to describe any Pakistani accomplishment, our boys decidedly out-talented the other team. Unlike the machine that is South Africa, driven by pure discipline, Pakistan is fuelled entirely by talent – all hail the King Afridi. Though Younis Khan’s decision to give the last over to an inexperienced seventeen year old and not bowling Umer Gul for all four overs shall forever evade me…but I shall refrain from petty nit picking and criticizing. Let us not concern ourselves with that for now, these moments are few and far between for us so lets celebrate them unrefrained. Our boys played like champions and they have done our country proud. We have proven once again that we are not a force to be written off, even when shroud with utter disparity. This is the nation we are and this is the nation we love – Jeevay Pakistan.

AK – Never write them off! Great match. The most annoying part was the post-match commentary. 98% was criticizing South Africa, and how bad they played, probably because they were the “favorites”. What they forgot to validly point out is how the brilliance of Pakistan put the pressure on South Africa, and in turn made them, not choke, but crumble. When it comes to the crunch, we’ll always shine. Let’s hope the performance is repeated on Sunday.

Sania Ansari – In light of the recent events in Pakistan, watching the semi finals on Thursday at the Sports Café was just what all of us needed. It wasn’t just the win that made it so exhilarating but the crowd who sat at the edge of their seats throughout the match cheering, clapping, jumping, and screaming. The atmosphere all around was one of unity and that made it all the more enjoyable.

Regardless of the results of the match on Sunday, the fight that our cricket team put up proved to us all that if we really try then it IS possible.

Mian Mithu – Dekho Dekho Kaun Aya, Sher Aaaya, Sher Aaaya! The Pakistani fans were living the game. This was not the Oval – this was a supposedly polished university club. The celebrations were wild; dancing, hugging, and laughing all in equal measure. Pakistan is the polar opposite of South Africa. Ruthless efficiency overcome by flashes of brilliance. Orgasmic. “Do or die,” to quote several of our players. Typical Pakistan. Let’s hope that we can claim what should have been ours last time. Pakistan Zindabad.

DS – The “gathering” from all corners of the city of London arrived – hoping it would end in victory and that there was something (anything at all) to be happy about for Pakistan. By 5:30 pm, the Sports Bar was heaving – Pakistan had won the toss – but was this a start of good things to come? Now let’s keep in mind that victory, solidarity, and hope is not something we would normally associate with Pakistan. Yet the Pakistan team did what everyone thought couldn’t be done to South Africa – they defeated them!
It was as if the team was listening to the 60 – 70 people crowded in the bar, hundreds of miles away, willing them to victory. Every dot ball cheered, every misfield (and farcical Gul drop catch) booed. You could see the perplexed look on all the South Africans & English crowd there and chants of “Pakistan Zindabad” from a large group of people waving their pints of beer at the TV screens. In the end, Pakistan won and the crowd obviously went wild. It was great to see the passion for the nation alive and kicking – but if only it could be focused on things that really matter …

Hammad Khan – It was a sweet afternoon in the heart of London, cheering on Pakistan with a large group of passionate friends. Our hearts were battling our minds and our hopes for glory somehow overcame our inner fears of the past. If every day was like yesterday, Pakistanis would not only raise their game, but raise their name too. Younus and the boys have self-belief now and have every reason to become champions on Sunday. If it happens, as we all so deeply wish for, it will cement a principle that even when we’re unprepared, even when we lose a few times, even when we keep making mistakes, the next game is an opportunity to find something great and change the course of ‘reality’. When Pakistan walk out to Lords for the final, they will have discovered who they are. Now there’s a metaphor for all of us.  

UFO – It feels great right now. I think the way we started the first 3 overs yesterday with the aggressive intent was the key to our success because it set the tone for the match. It was clear that we were going to take the fight to the South Africans and were not bothered being up against the best bowling attack of the tournament. – Well done, Akmal!

It was also interesting to see Younis Khan’s demeanour on the field and how it drastically changed throughout the tournament. From someone who was smiling on the field in the first few matches to someone turning into a very serious captain (like another great Khan from the past) who is not afraid to shout at his team on the field was great to watch. It may not be the best method to motivate your team but it shows how Younis realised that we, as a nation, desperately needed this win. Younis was so caught up in the moment that he even scolded Mohammed Aamer, someone who is half his age, for not coming up to the stumps for the run-out.

The similarity in today’s composition/structure of the team vs. the 1992 World Cup team makes no sense. In ’92, we had Ejaz Ahmed, who used to bat low in the order and was used as our 5th bowler for most of the tournament – probably the only time he bowled in his life. He was better off as a hard hitting high up the order. Similary, Saleem Malik used to bat at odd spots in the batting order and seemed to be a complete waste in the team. Presently, Younis started off the tournament predicting Salman Butt & Ahmed Shehzad to be the key individuals for batting and Sohail Tanvir and Yasser Arafat with the ball. All these guys were dropped after the first few losses and now we have an odd (’92 World Cup) style team structure. For example – we have Fawad Alam (known as the doodhwaala on pakpassion.com) whose role may never be understood because he never gets to bat or bowl. Then we have Shahzeb, a 20 year old, as an opener who hardly has any experience. Then it’s continued with Razaak, who is clearly not physically fit and Misbah who has no position in the batting order as the team cannot decide whether to let go of him or to keep him back. However, even though the batting order doesn’t feel right – we still are winning! It would be great if we can win on Sunday and bring the Cup home.

Danyaal Hasan – Goes to show that regardless of the odds or the opposition, united, we can do anything! If they keep building on this … the sky is the limit. What they can’t do is get carried away – there is one more match still to go to finally give Pakistan a good news story it has been waiting for so long.

Moiz Baig – I have never been much of a cricket fan and I’m not sure what made me follow this particular World Cup. Was it the convenient time of the games in Dubai or because I have a decent set up to boast off my projector?  Nevertheless, I’m glad I chose to follow it! Having seen the Semi-finals with a large group of my friends was truly a refreshing experience and come to think of it – it was a lot more than just a game of cricket that drove the excitement that filled up the room with energy. It was about being a Pakistani and relating to something positive, even if it was as minor as a cricket match. It’s a shame that such a vacuum has been created after years of instability and frustrated that most of us constantly just think “this is not the Pakistan we grew up in” …..! It was just so great to be publicly recognized as a respectable country (that we once were) last night!

SM
– I am not an avid cricket fan. I do know the difference between a sixer and a four but lose the plot when it comes to a ‘no ball’ or a ‘shot of the back foot’. Last night was different though. I knew this was a big match. The semi-finals and that to against the SA. In the past I have kept up with the scandals that surround our cricket team. Since the Mumbai and Sri lanka team attacks I know our cricket team has suffered the harsh consequences and been banned to host matches.

For the first innings I was in and out of the house preparing for a big night out. Plans for the night had been altered a little to ensure the boys get to watch the match. So we all gathered at a bar full of SA, English. American etc but the Paksitanis dominated all gathered there straight off work.
I focused more on the socializing and the woman who sang bad karaoke versions of 80’s songs while dozens of big screens showed our men in dark green against the other men in green.

By the end of it I was watching. I had no choice the most indifferent of us were all watching. It was not about the game anymore. It was about our country. We needed this. The passion in the eyes of the young players said it all. They were really pumped up. Our country is in turmoil. Morale is down. By the last few balls the boys were already jumping up and hugging each other with joy. People on another table shouted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ as the flags waved across the screens and fans jumped up in joy. This was a moment when even the most indifferent felt pride, joy and most importantly hope!

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6 comments

  1. Danish Khan · · Reply

    Excellent post Omar, I knew Pakistan would make it through; as I had indicated to a friend sitting next to me during the toss, that today they ‘feel’ like winning! Its incredible to see Pakistan gel together as a unit at a back of some excellent individual talent and sparks of wondrous in the field, even though internal differences exist.

    Ijaz Uncle’s account is a great one, no feeling that can compare to the likes of having hot tea and paratha (which he would need to confirm, haha) at a road-side ‘cafe’ in Pakistan’s rural areas and watching a match on a 14 inches screen.

    My account was also unique, I watched it in Cine Pax, on a the largest of all screens. In a theatre like environment, the closest to could get to a stadium – considering no international cricket is played in Pakistan anymore, sadly. The atmosphere was just that of a stadium, absolutely electric! Even the management had started selling pop-corns and drinks in a style that of a stadium, walking infront of the seats. Amazing!

  2. Uzair Jaswal · · Reply

    It was a stunning and much needed victory for Pakistan. I was watching the match with my friends. The atmosphere was tense and we were all biting our fingernails during Afridi’s batting. But he did Pakistan proud yesterday and I’m so glad boom boom Afridi helped Pakistan win yesterday as well. In the semi finals, one of the most tense moments when Fawad Alam came to bowl and gave fifteen runs away to South africa, but Umar gull and Mohammed Amir compensated well later on. I ran out onto the street shouting and screaming as soon as the match was over, and I did the same again last night for the finals!!

  3. Ali Ahmed Shafqaat · · Reply

    We are through, finally! It’s an achievement for Pakistan and Pakistanis all over the world. A nation which has not been regular in any form of cricket for the past 2 years came to be the champions of champions – Great!

    Living in the GCC, thank GOD we have something to finally be proud about! Everyday, we are attacked and have to defend ourselves and our nation because of the recent issues in Pakistan such as the Taliban, Swan, Corruption, and Poverty etc.

    But the Final was different – as soon as the match finished, all the Bahrainis I know and all my colleagues sent me text messages to congratulate me and I felt proud. Pakistan was long over due on good news and we got it in the form of cricket. Hard work from our senior players like Afridi and Younis really paid off and they heped us reach to this level.

    Previously, I was forced to accept that the standard of cricket was a reflection of our state of nation with all that has been going on lately but I have changed my thoughts after this final!

    Please be thankful to God in this moment and don’t forget him in this moment of happiness. We should always back our heroes up and not be disrespectufl to them either – I still remember how ten years ago, on the same ground when Pakistan was playing Australia and lost – our people burnt the Pakistani flag, posters, pictures of our team, and were throwing stones and shoes to them as they returned to our nation and that is wrong.

    I watched the match at a Desi Sports Bar with no opposition at all, the only slight opposition we faced was from the management and the waiters who were Indians – We enjoyed, danced, did Bhangra to back up our team and by the last 2 overs, we were so exhausted that we could only give two thumbs up and say JEEVAY PAKISTAN AND JEEVAY CRICKET!

  4. Danyaal Hasan · · Reply

    This will be carried by the The Nation in its special Sports Edition this Sunday. As always feedback appreciated.

    Wanted, an encore!
    By Danyaal Hasan

    Life and sport carry many parallels; the trials and tribulations faced by its protagonists in their pursuit of happiness, commonality of knowledge, courage, adaptability, and hard work as prerequisites for success, and the culmination of either joy or sorrow following each outcome. Every once in a while however, these parallels are magnified to represent something far greater than individual triumph, in fact encapsulating a microcosm of society, of peoples, and indeed of nations. It was thus befitting that the final of the Twenty20 World Cup, a tournament and format that has captured the hearts and minds of four generations of ideology, become the latest example of this age old adage, with Pakistan and Sri Lanka its protagonists, and the home of cricket, the Lords Cricket Ground, its theatre of dreams.

    How apt it was that Pakistan’s opposition on this monumental day be Sri Lanka, the country that defied reason and advice to tour Pakistan when no one else would, a decision that will undoubtedly be underlined by history with “we told you so!” However, where others may choose to ignore, history will also show that decisions entrenched in principles, morals, and universal brotherhood carry a message far greater than any argument for logic or rationality, one of selflessness and accord to combat a terror that has no home, faith, or nationalistic loyalty.

    Consequently, with history as the backdrop, the expectations of Pakistani and Sri Lankan men, women, and children took centre stage, separated only by allegiance to a flag and not by the blood, sweat, and tears brought on by decades of internal political and military strife. Not to be outdone by their personal disappointment, they were flanked admirably by a significant number of spectators whose allegiance was spread across Pakistan’s unpredictability, Sri Lanka’s efficiency, cricket itself, and its Boom Boom POW, Shahid Afridi. From the onset however, it was clear that given the recent chaos that has enveloped Pakistan, its cricket, and its citizens, there was considerably more at stake for this company. Yet, armed with hope, desire, and a renewed self-confidence, it seemed ready for its date with destiny, a quiet resolute to win at least some respite from today, if not a vision for a better tomorrow.

    The journey to this final act could not have been more divergent for the two principal actors. Sri Lanka’s unbeaten record thus far demonstrated its proficiency and ruthlessness, contrasted by Pakistan’s miserable showing up to the semi finals, against any value opposition bar New Zealand. Pakistan drew the envy of none and the chuckles of plenty when faced with the might of South Africa in what would become the penultimate act to a fairy tale written in the stars. Thus, 11 men took the field that day representing Pakistan’s colours, carrying with them both purpose on their sleeve and a chip on their shoulder, determined to stem the tide and inspire belief into even their most ardent of critics.

    But inspiration rarely comes to those lacking positive intent and the faculty to profit from hindsight. On this day though Pakistan possessed both, repeating none of the mistakes of its previous outings; urgency was shown at the top of the order with Kamran Akmal wooing his supporters back to fore, Afridi’s blind wafts across the line were replaced with the perfect blend of discipline and aggression reminding everyone of “what could have been”, the middle order was stable if not overwhelming, and a decent total against the most well rounded bowling attack in the tournament a just reward. The baton was thus passed to Pakistan’s bowling attack, its one source of relative strength thus far in the tournament, to finish a job not quite half done. It answered the call with aplomb worthy of champions, and in the process a 17-year-old upstart ordained by the great one himself, upstaged a 19-year-old South African, intended for greatness from age 15. Afridi’s variety and penetration, Ajmal’s guile, Razzaq’s balance, Gull’s precision coated bullets, and the captain’s lax replaced with a scowl supplemented the headlines, with the exclamation point being placed on team performance rather than individual brilliance, taking Pakistan’s unchartered route on collision course with the ghosts of 2007 to finally lay them to rest.

    For Pakistani fans especially, the final act itself remains a blur amidst the ensuing euphoria, but what sticks to memory is Pakistan’s dominance from start to finish. They mesmerised not with attitude, aptitude, or ability, but with harmony of mind, body, and spirit, which on its day, even the skill, grace, and unanimity of Sri Lanka could not conquer. This was more than a victory, it was a message to a beleaguered nation that united, we the Pashtuns, Baloch, Punjabi, and Sindhi, can scale any summit, no matter how unlikely the goal, no matter how insurmountable the odds, and no matter how strong the opposition. It was a message that if we are to persevere in the face of mounting adversity, we need to confront our own failings, faults, and demons head on. It was a message that the will of the collective is stronger than the incompetence and greed of a few. It was a message that the ability to change the course of our own destinies lies within reach.

    The parallel lines between life and sport were thus erased by the strength in character of a few, replaced with a roadmap for how success might be achieved. It is up to all of us individually and collectively to preserve and prolong this otherwise fleeting moment, and transform it into something far greater. Pakistan is at a cross roads in its history; our enemies might well make up the main characters of conspiracy theories, but none are more dangerous than the complacency and misplaced vanity that rests within all of us. If we are to take inspiration from the unity and purpose shown by this band of men, we must admit to ourselves first that Pakistan’s fall from grace did not come about at the hands of foreign forces of Machiavellian intent, but rather through self inflicted wounds laying bare a lack of resolve to follow the principles prescribed by its founder. Only strength in unity will turn back the enemies at the gate, not the words that appear here, nor the proclamations of wrong that are beginning to sound more and more like the boy who cried wolf, nor the hollow appeals to the Almighty to deliver us from a plight entirely of our own making.

    The dream of a strong and prosperous Pakistan was one of unity, faith, and discipline. It was clear on this cool sunny afternoon at the Lords Cricket Ground, that amidst an erupting sea of green all over the world, the dream was alive and well.

  5. Shahmeer · · Reply

    And we won …

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