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Lord's was a flag-waving sea of green and Dil Dil Pakistan rang out once more to celebrate Pakistan's victory in the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup. A Pakistani bus with people hanging off every door, window, and cramming the roof blared its horns outside the home of cricket. What a moment for Pakistan cricket fans and the residents of St John's Wood, NW8.
Pakistan cricket and unpredictability have become bedfellows over the years. At the start of this tournament there was a sense that the bedfellows were falling out of love. Pakistan had become predictable no-hopers. An underwhelming show in the warm-ups was followed by a cold performance against England.
Fans of Pakistan cricket may be pleased to know that unpredictability is back with a vengeance. Not only have Pakistan gone from unconvincing to unbeatable, they also won the final with the cool of habitual winners.
When everybody expected Sri Lankan to rocket away in the first six overs, Pakistan ripped the heart out of their batting. A blow that Kumar Sangakarra recovered from in masterful fashion. Sri Lanka had set themselves 155 plus when they won the toss. After the first six overs, they settled for as many as they could get, which ultimately was not far short of their original target.
It was enough to make Pakistan supporters anxious. The response by Younis Khan's team did little to settle nerves. For the best part of 16 overs it was hard to decipher whether the Pakistan innings was an exercise in immaculate timing or a stumbling chase of a manageable total.
When Shahid Afridi, the man of the match and Pakistan's man of the series, launched Udana for six over midwicket the verdict was a beautifully paced chase. The crowd bayed Afridi's name each time he faced a ball, and their champion--as if making up for years of disappointment--responded by winning the World Cup for Pakistan.
Sri Lanka were heroic today as they have been throughout the tournament. They are cricketers of unusual intelligence and dignity. Their battle to defend a low total was brave and skillful. The two best bowling sides in the tournament went toe to toe, and it was the batsmen of Pakistan who held firm.
Younis Khan followed in the footsteps of his hero Imran Khan and lifted a World Cup for Pakistan. Each intervening year has made this victory sweeter. Younis also followed his hero in two other ways. First, he managed to pull together a disjointed Pakistan team into a world beating unit. Second, he announced his retirement--but only from Twenty20 cricket.
He may as well. How can you beat the drama of this moment? The past years of desperation in Pakistan; isolation in international cricket. No cricket ground you can call home. A nomadic life with sporadic international cricket.
At the end Younis Khan dedicated the victory to Bob Woolmer, his mentor, and to the long-suffering people of his homeland. Whoever scripted this is a genius.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets hereFeeds: Kamran Abbasi
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi