Twenty20 World Cup 2009 June 20, 2009

Go Pakistan, this could be your moment

 


There is something about Pakistan's determination to put right some of the wrongs of the past, and lift the mood of the people back home © Associated Press
 

In 1999, Pakistan played thrilling World Cup cricket only to be crushed in the final by Australia at Lord's. In 2007 Pakistan came within an agonising 5 runs of winning the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup. In one fell swoop - a Twenty20 final at Lord's - Younis Khan's team can banish both those painful memories for Pakistan's players and supporters.

This is an unexpected opportunity. Few people predicted Pakistan could reach this stage. Cricket's perennial underachievers have overachieved in this tournament. They have already made their supporters proud. Against Sri Lanka they will again start as underdogs.

But if Pakistan play with the same passion, pride, and fearlessness that they have displayed in the latter half of the tournament then they have every chance of success. Pakistan play a strong Sri Lankan team, but the teams are evenly matched. A flash of genius from a player from either side will seal this match. Enter Shahid Afridi, a player with verve. This could be your moment.

Sri Lanka would be worthy winners too - and the dignity they showed after the Lahore attacks would be reason enough- but there is something about Pakistan's determination to put right some of the wrongs of the past, and lift the mood of the people back home, that is compelling.

Younis Khan's admonishment of Mohammad Aamer for failing to complete a run out when the semi-final was already won tells its own story. Afridi and Abdul Razzaq have the pain of a decade ago to ease. Many of the players watched India celebrate in South Africa two years ago. Above all, their countrymen have suffered on a daily basis for many months. Younis, Afridi, and Umar Gul are from the war torn North West Frontier Province. Pakistan have many powerful motivations to win this cup.

But the match will not be decided on sentiment. Pakistan may not have an Ajantha Mendis but they possess a more consistently powerful bowling line-up. Sri Lanka shade the batting although Pakistan are fast improving and must have one big score in them, surely? At least they will be confident of tackling Murali and Mendis. It was Lasith Malinga who undid them in the Super Eights match. Pakistan must play him with a clear plan. The last outing was panic-stricken.

It is always difficult to predict a Twenty20 match with certainty. But I am certain that Younis' team have been the best ambassadors that Pakistan has had for many years. They have not achieved this through politics or money. They have achieved this through their skill and passion on a cricket pitch and the joy and excitement that they have brought to this tournament. Changing the world's view of the people of Pakistan was harder than winning any World Cup.

Now for the easy part. Go Pakistan! Dil Dil Pakistan . . .

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

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