Osman Samiuddin
Sportswriter at the National

Pakistan v Sri Lanka, ICC World Twenty20 final, Lord's

A time to laugh, a time to heal

Pakistan's win has brought respite from death and bombs and given a nation the gift of celebration

Osman Samiuddin

June 22, 2009

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Pakistan fans back home after their team's win, Islamabad, June 21, 2009
People danced on the streets, from windows of their cars, bopping horns and stereos © AFP
Enlarge

Sea View was bouncing last night. Karachi's beach is never lost for humanity but last night it was particularly overrun. Mostly they were young men, from all over the city, dancing with the great abandon of those who cannot but do not care anyway. At regular distances, cars would have to stop, allow the men to dance all around, occupants being invited to dance, or drive on through under a flag. Mostly it was a Pakistan flag, but those of political parties were not absent. Those who didn't dance on the streets did so from the windows of their cars, bopping to horns and stereos. Save for rallies welcoming back exiled leaders I have never seen such scenes in Karachi.

TV channels elatedly confirmed that such scenes were not confined to Pakistan's most urban city. Lahore anyway needs no excuse to party, but even the capital, once described as a "fig of bureaucratic imagination," loosened its tie and let out its paunch. Obligatory scenes from refugee camps housing the displaced from the battle in Swat followed and why not? These are people who have lost everything but their lives and nobody will begrudge them a little cheer.

Rarely has cricket's place in this country's conscience been as entrenched as it has been over the past two years. Rarely has it so contributed to the mood of the hour. Since the Oval Test, in drawing rooms, on streets, at parks, at dinners, parties, mosques, markets, hotels, tea shops, courtrooms, police stations, cricket has lurked, waiting for politics to get over. Few things in this country are as talked about as politics but cricket has been a competitive second. Dope tests, intrigues, the death of a coach, rotten performances, more rotten administration, the Lahore terrorist attacks; people outside Pakistan worried that the Lahore attacks were the death of cricket but really, cricket has never more been life and life has never more been cricket, just that with all the beauty came the ugliness, unpredictability and despair.

So, of course, yesterday's win was going to be important. For good measure, for a people weak for romance, it was done in a bolshy, Pakistani way, against the grain, confounding everyone and even their own captain. For added touch, a Pathan led them and a Karachi-based Pathan - an ethnicity in itself - was his main man. Shahid Afridi, an observer said yesterday, has in him spirits of both Karachi and the Pakhtoon, spirits that have often resided uneasily; he is likely to hustle you as Karachiites always will, but the fight he brings will be a fearless one, even if it is often self-defeating. After this, people will remember him differently.

Younis Khan, in particular, has led with touching dignity and grace. He was lampooned for calling the whole thing a bit of fun earlier in the tournament. Yet why wouldn't he? Like Inzamam in the decade before him, he has stood upright and proud through quake after quake, tremor after tremor. He has seen a coach and mentor die after a traumatic loss, he has seen an international team attacked by terrorists in his country, he has seen his province and hometown in flames, he has seen immense personal tragedy and he has travelled to cricket grounds while being shot at during the worst of Karachi's ethnic battles. So if he thought that this was a little bit of fun, you can see why.

But when he needed to get serious, he did. It was not missed in Pakistan that he barely smiled on the field during the semi-final and final and if he laughed at errors before, he was not so forgiving here. He led Pakistan's run-scoring when they were doing badly and that's not bad for a player not thought of by some - including his own, now former, chief selector - as a Twenty20 batsman. Mostly, he realized when the flow was with Pakistan and he seized on it, like Imran Khan and Wasim Akram had often done before him. And he then did what so few subcontinent cricketers have done: he left gracefully. Admittedly it was only from the one format that anyway holds less allure for him, but it was some stage to leave, particularly with the riches the shorter form now brings.


Pakistan fans watch the final, Islamabad, June 21, 2009
Cricket has never more been life and life has never more been cricket © AFP
Enlarge

It has been said that few sporting victories anywhere around the world have been as significant as this. Perhaps it is true, but the real truth of that will emerge over time. Pakistan's win will do little in literal terms for the war on terror; if we're lucky the spirits will be emboldened further. Countries are still unlikely to visit Pakistan for international cricket because that is not really part of this.

But the win and the run have brought, for however long, respite from war, death, bombs and load-shedding (power cuts). People have laughed and smiled since Pakistan's run began, with that outstanding Afridi catch and Umar Gul spell. Last night they laughed and smiled and danced and jigged and blew their horns and waved their flags and ate their mithai (sweets) and set off their firecrackers more than they have for a long time. That is as powerful a gift as can be given to any nation.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by Theena on (June 24, 2009, 6:19 GMT)

A bit late on this..

From us in Sri Lanka: a hearty congratulations.

More than this fine tournament, certainly more than the IPL, more than the display of world class skills, watching Pakistan lift the T20, especially at this juncture in the country's history, redeemed the T20 format in my mind. International cricket needs Pakistan just as much as Pakistan needs international cricket. Well done to Younis Khan and co. Brilliant, brilliant performance in the final. You played like champions.

I've been saying it all week, but I'll say it again: Pakistan zindabad!

Posted by Mullick on (June 23, 2009, 14:05 GMT)

Wow.... Pakistan. Congratulation Folks. Pakistan needed this victory badly and proved itself to be a great cricketing nation despite of many other cricketing nations reluctant to play them. Pakistan's cricket had been going through tough time following the Lahore incident and this win is really really significant. Congratulations again.

Posted by suraj013 on (June 23, 2009, 13:31 GMT)

congratulations to pakistan!! this is a very good win for pak sports in tough political conditions. ICC will now re-consider its decision of sidelining pak from world cricket and hopefully we will see some international cricket in pakistan. cheers!

Posted by sridharps on (June 23, 2009, 7:56 GMT)

As an Indian, my heart felt congratulations to the Pakistani nation and people. Your team was the best and deserving winners in the end. More importantly, your nation deserved this more than any other. To be honest, I was rooting for pakistan throughout the tournament once India was knocked out.

Posted by kattil on (June 23, 2009, 7:37 GMT)

Hi Pakistani Folks, This is something to be really cheered about. This is a big day for Pakistan as well as world Cricket. You really deserve it. I am an Indian , posting this from California,US. In this tournament, I was supporting India till they crashed out.I like Pakistan team just because they have more flamboyant stars like Afridi. Also I feel that Pakistan deserved to win the finals because of the following reasons.

a) Pakistan have been playing extremely well in this tournament b) Pakistan team needed a victory like this to boost the morale, it came at the right time

3. Politically, Pakistan is going through very tough times as everyone knows. Atleast Srilanka has something to cheer about with their army's massive victory over LTTE.

4) Cricket tournaments are going to be more interesting now with no more domination by a "super team".

So Cricket is the ultimate winner here.

Cheers!

Posted by ntzee on (June 23, 2009, 5:24 GMT)

we Pakistanis are predictably unpredictable, this makes us special. i am impressed reading comments from our Indian brothers. If anyone needed this victory it was Pakistan, we had enough of hatred and intolerance hope this voctory brings the lost confidence back to the people of Pakistan.....Amen!

Posted by Theglobetrotter on (June 23, 2009, 3:52 GMT)

It's hard to believe but this uncanny team has delivered. Congratulations to every Pakistani for our cricket team has reaped such glorious laurels for all of us to feel proud of. The treatment of the international cricketing community during the last two years has been far from fair towards Pakistan. We have been alienated in quite shameful ways. For all of you cricket-maniacs, you would agree with me that this was quite a murky time for Pakistani cricket and it felt like this last sport where we had played with pride on international level was going to be a story of the past. This is a huge lesson not only for the whole nation of Pakistan as it bears a strong analogy to their socio-political state-of-affairs but for the ICC and the cricketing nations as well. I would strongly recommend that ICC re-consider the decision to take 2011 world cup away from Pakistan. This will be an utterly unjust treatment especially in the wake of extra ordinary committment of Pakistan to this sport.

Posted by Winfried on (June 23, 2009, 1:19 GMT)

Congratulations to Pakistan! I am an Indian fan, but I am very happy that our Pakistani brothers did so well on this tournament. Inshaallah Pakistan will triumph against terror as well. God be with you in this difficult time.

Posted by PottedLambShanks on (June 22, 2009, 17:50 GMT)

Given the situation in Pakistan, I don't think anyone should be spending any time doing anything other than trying to stabilise the country and I actually believe Pakistam could have done without this distraction from the massive task at hand.

Posted by ganeshholla.v on (June 22, 2009, 17:50 GMT)

Congrats to Pakistan, not just the team but the entire nation, for you have shown the world, on how to keeping fighting, irrespective of all the negative things happening around you!!! Kudos to you all!!!

Posted by lovecricket247 on (June 22, 2009, 16:30 GMT)

Hi Mr Sammiudin, would like to ask you one question in the light of you articles on 17 June 2009, Machine vs Man, calling Pakistan the past. Can you tell me what made you say that and after watching the same semi final and the final itself what does it show you and the rest of the world. PAK cricket has never been the past and never will be.

Posted by randomrambling on (June 22, 2009, 15:50 GMT)

Congratulations Pakistan. As an Indian, it is quite obvious which team I supported at the start of the tournament. But once India was out, the only team I supported and wanted to win this tournament was Pakistan; for Pakistan needs this at this hour.. its people deserve to read better things in their newspapers than the terror attacks.. this country deserves much better than the situation it is dealing with..

Celebrate your heart out guys.. u guys earnt it !

Posted by gangolee on (June 22, 2009, 14:05 GMT)

This is a wonderful win for Pakistan. Believe it or not, being an Indian I was supporting Pakistan for the win this year (ofcourse, after India crashed out!). The youngsters of this beautiful country now have something to cheer about and someone to look up to! Congratulations to all Pakistani fans! This is a well deserved victory!

Posted by davemn2154 on (June 22, 2009, 13:41 GMT)

Congratulations to the Pakistan team and to Pakistani people! Pakistan and India play this game with similar passion and both need to do well for the survival of the game. Well done!

Posted by living_ram on (June 22, 2009, 13:41 GMT)

Of Sport and Miracles. Of Tragedies and the Ever Triumphant Human Spirit. For once, despite the excessive capitalism afflicting cricket, it has managed to produce a spectacle that heals the hearts of displaced people and restores some pride and self-esteem to a battered nation. The game is more likely to benefit from lesser developed nations than ones with economic muscle. Well Done lads !!

Posted by kjerryk on (June 22, 2009, 13:37 GMT)

Congratulations!! you guys are the deserving champion, period. My heart goes out to Yunis Khan, a man i laughed at when he toured on that path breaking tour to India. I thought he was not capable of hitting beyond the mid off fielder. But did he prove me wrong!!?? Afridi has made sure no one will take him lightly any more. After so many years, he has realized that he can bat and batting is not just hitting. Ironically, he learnt this in a T20 game!! Last of all, i congratulate the Pakistani people. They have endured a lot and deserve all the happiness. I wish Pakistan as a nation unites and chooses progress over their divisive politicians.

Posted by KHAN_AZAM on (June 22, 2009, 13:32 GMT)

Like every one, congratulations to each and every Pakistani's and supporters all over the world and than salute to the sons(Younis & Company) of a great nation to provide us unlimited happiness and the moments of joy what we were waiting for a long long long long time, by the grace of all mighty ALLAH. At the same time I would like to appreciate Sri Lanka for their efforts and specially the attitude throughout the event. Azam from Makkah- KSA

Posted by VDubey on (June 22, 2009, 13:26 GMT)

Hearty Congratulations to the Pakistan team and its people! Pakistan played top class cricket and Yunus did a remarkable job in leading the team. It was great to see Afridi finally delivering what all of us he could. It took a long time but it did come! Well done. Enjoy every bit of this moment and let the joy of life take your nation.

Posted by girishnks on (June 22, 2009, 13:23 GMT)

Inspite of the fact that India did not make it to the Finals, I think Indians will be glad that the Finals was fought poignantly between 2 teams that has had the worse for the wear in the past year...Well done to Pakistan and here is hoping the joy and ecstacy that comes with Sporting truimph can translate into Hope and Rejuvenation in Pakistan..From one Indian to all Pakistanis...Enjoy your moment of unbridled Joy...u deserve it...and from one Indian to the Sri Lankans...u were outplayed on the day, but u did everything right to get to the finals and your time will come too...Congrats to both the teams for playing Cricket as it is meant to be played...as a sport that provides Joy and Succour to millions of fans...Cricket Rocks...

Posted by fahadf on (June 22, 2009, 13:14 GMT)

I feel very lucky today to have witnessed history getting make in front of me, 17 years from now when people talk about Pakistan's epic victory in World cup T20 I can tell them "I watched that match and I watched that team rising like a star through out the tournament", just like when today people talk about the 1992 Imran's Tigers World Cup win, I proudly tell them "I watched that match and I watched that team rising like a star through out the tournament".

Posted by getrealforreal on (June 22, 2009, 13:11 GMT)

Congratulations Pakistan. As a Sri Lankan fan I was disappointed that we lost the final but I think Pakistan was the better team that day and they deserved to win. Also, this is a great thing for Pakistan and their people as a nation. I remember in 1996 when we won the world cup, while we were still caught up in a bitter war with the LTTE terrorist group, it gave the people hope and something to smile about. I hope this inspires more youngsters who are being coerced by the terrorist to perhaps pickup a bat instead of a gun and a cricket ball instead of a grenade and see the value of serving one's country and taking pride in it.

Posted by BrianCharlesVivek on (June 22, 2009, 13:01 GMT)

Congrats to the Pakistan team and the people of Pakistan. Despite all the trouble over there, the players have given you a wonderful reason to celebrate. Let peace return and hoping to see cricket action in Pakistan soon.

Vivek, India.

Posted by Underdawgs on (June 22, 2009, 12:57 GMT)

How I wish I could've joined the millions of ppl on the streets of Pakistan last night!! It was truly a remarkable contest with a typical Pakistani performance to win the only way a Pak team knows how to win a tournament. Osman, as always, you have found 'just' the right words to describe the mayhem we call celebrations in our country. I remember going to Kaka Sweet House with my father to buy a truck load of mithai after the '92 WC. I hope at least one more son had the priviledge to do the same with his father 17 years 2 months and 27 days on. I have a feeling several thousand sons had that opportunity last night:) There is nothing more pure, more liberating or more of an identification of a people's soul than the way the Pakistanis celebrated the '92 win. I'm sure it was the same last night. Let this be the day when our ppl learn to live and fight together to make our country what it can be and get rid of ALL those wanting to harm her. In the words of Ali, WE SHOOK UP THE WORLD!!!!!!

Posted by asadzahoor on (June 22, 2009, 12:20 GMT)

thanks prakash2007 and Leojatt 4 urs urs words its great victory 4 Pakistani Supporters WELL DONE OUR TEAM GOOD WORK DONE

Posted by prakash2007 on (June 22, 2009, 11:28 GMT)

It was great to see Pakistan win the cup. Its kind of fairy tale that a Nation which has seen so much tragedies was united by 11 men with a Purpose on the fied. As a Indian I/we defnitely felt little Jealous that our Neighbour has taken the cup which was ours Last Year. But this is not the time to even question the ifs and buts happening in Pakistan and especially its Cricket Establishment. The Joy that these men brought about is to be cherished from Peshwar to Lahore to Islamabad. In Chennai we stand and Applaud.. Well done Friends...

Posted by Leojatt on (June 22, 2009, 11:04 GMT)

Congratulations to the The Pakistan team and all the Pakistani Supporters around the world on this historic win. The third generation of Briitish Pakistanis (including my kids) have endured a lot of heartache over the years but seeing the Pakistan team lifting the world cup meant the world to us. We all sang 'Dil Dil Pakistan' and had a great party.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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