Pakistan in India 2007 November 9, 2007

Chokers have their catharsis

One dramatic chase has revived Pakistan's optimism and begun the banishment of the chokers tag

All is far from perfect in the Pakistan cricket team. The questions posed at the start of this series about the openers and wicketkeeper are some way from resolution. But Pakistan's successful chase of 321 under lights was a welcome and essential triumph.

"Chokers" is a demoralising title for any sports team, even when it is well earned. It hurts the soul and shrinks the spirit. When Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir entered the final act of Mohali's memorable one-dayer, a further stumble might have caused mental damage that would have quickly handed the rest of the series to India. Instead, they held their nerve in confident fashion.

Now Pakistan face the next encounter with an unexpected optimism. Tanvir plays with refreshing gusto and positivity. Afridi has shown he can measure his aggression for a few overs when it matters. Younis Khan has an influential century to calm his one-day anxiety. And Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul are beginning to forge a rapid and penetrative partnership. Crucially, India have problems aplenty to offer some balance to Pakistan's weaknesses.

One dramatic chase has revived Pakistan's optimism and begun the banishment of the chokers tag. Cricket is an exhilarating sport when contested by flawed but flamboyant powers. Pakistan, you might argue, are a touch more flawed and a shade more flamboyant, which probably places the advantage with India. But Pakistan fans at least expect their team to fight, an attribute that mysteriously disappeared during South Africa's tour only to reemerge in Mohali. What inspired its return is unclear but now this team knows it can perform when it matters--and that should be a moment of catharsis.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here