My head says Pakistan, my heart says Lara
Pakistan will tomorrow bid farewell to arguably the greatest batsman of this era. Brian Lara arrived in the early 1990s as the mighty West Indian dynasty folded. Through his genius and that of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, West Indian cricket continued to be a force for the rest of that decade.
The question that nobody will ever be able to answer is just how brilliant Lara might have been had he had a half decent team to support him? My guess is that he would have been unstoppable. And for much of his career he threatened to be, particularly in the days when individual batting records were falling to him with ease. But the hopping maestro from Trinidad has not just been a man for records. He has saved his country on numerous occasions against the best teams.
From the beginning Lara has had a particular liking for Pakistan. In the 1992 World Cup he destroyed Imran's team with an effortless dominance, a harbinger of the coiled beauty that he would unleash on all nations.
As with all heroes, he has divided opinion in his homeland but elsewhere his genius has been unequivocally acclaimed. The love for Lara has been evident in the Champions Trophy and now this West Indian tour of Pakistan. And Lara has responded like a true great, handling the fortunes of his team with immense wisdom, dexterity, and sportsmanship.
Some readers of this blog, including Mr Euceph Ahmed who generally enjoys disagreeing with every word I write, have requested a piece on Lara. We should all give Lara the send off he deserves, and I have no doubt that the Karachi crowd will not be found wanting.
This may be a World Cup year and a winning finale would be nice for Pakistan. But it would be equally heart-warming to see the last piece of Lara magic on Pakistani soil. For this match only, my head says Pakistan but my heart says Lara.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here