New age November 17, 2008

Two Pakistans, one result

The thrill of Imran Nazir's century for the Lahore Badshahs in the third final of the ICL was hard to match © ICL

Two small ripples in world cricket were earth shaking in this solemn year for Pakistan cricket. The prospect of seeing one Pakistan team in action has been unlikely enough but like Lahore rickshaws on Mall Road, two came along at once.

In the end, it was tough to decide which victory was more satisfying? A three-nil sweep of West Indies signalled that the official Pakistan team might have some fight in it yet, even if that fight is on foreign shores. Meanwhile, Pakistan's administrative exiles, the Lahore Badshahs, reminded us why Pakistan cricket had become known for its random brilliance.

For me, the thrill of Imran Nazir's century was hard to match, and the joy on his face tipped the balance in favour of the Badshahs. Nazir was once predicted a bright future by Viv Richards. That future never materialised but his record-breaking innings reminded us why King Viv was fooled like the rest of us.

Indeed, Nazir looked a different player, determined to make the most of his opportunity. An observation that mirrored the mood of his former teammates in Abu Dhabi. All of this, led me to two conclusions. First, that the exclusion of the ICL from offiicial cricket and the punishment of cricketers is an international disgrace and evidence of moral bankruptcy in cricket administration. But that's always been my view on the ICL. Second, that Pakistan's poverty of cricket in 2008 might have reminded its cricketers to make the most of every opportunity. Now, that was unexpected.

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