June 21, 2001

Pakistan's remarkable revival

Waqar Younis
A man can fly after taking 7 wickets in a One Day International - Waqar Younis at Leeds
Photo © CricInfo
Having beaten England in three successive games and Australia once in two fixtures, the Pakistan team seems to be on the recovery curve, leaving behind the inconsistency that marred it of late. Four wins in five outings, with one game washed out, is excellent in any circumstances. More so, if one looks at it in the bleak post-Lord's scenario, with the team whittled out in three days and hurtling down the precipice of a second successive Test series defeat against England, this is a transformation worth appreciating.

That most of these wins were achieved when it was rarely if ever on full strength - with among others key players such as Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam sitting out matches - also shows that the team is developing the until now missing resolve, to overcome a combination of adversity and opposition at the same time.

This indeed is heartening for those followers of the team who had been greatly disappointed after the almost unending series of disasters in the last one year or so.

To a great extent, the credit for this metamorphosis goes to skipper Waqar Younis, and his never-say-die attitude. Waqar may not have been highly imaginative in his bowling changes or inventive in field placings. But whatever he lacked in tactics, he more than made up for with a big heart and leading by example. As a result of it, he has grown in stature as a captain and rejuvenated himself as a strike bowler.

Waqar Younis
Waqar Younis celebrates the wicket of Mark Waugh
Photo © AFP
Thirteen wickets in two encounters is proof positive that there is still a lot of fire in the belly and quite considerable locomotion in the legs.

His mates must appreciate that his endeavours led to victories for the team, and the Aussie sequence of six wins against Pakistan was broken. And also those of his detractors who thought that he was no longer good enough for the limited version of the game and should be put to pasture sooner than later. They stand silenced, and quite effectively so.

Initially, the architect of this rather magnificent comeback was Inzamam, providing runs when the team desperately needed them.

And once the tide was turned at Old Trafford, and the series drawn, Pakistan has not looked back. That way Inzamam was the catalyst, while Waqar has been the inspiration behind this remarkable revival.

Abdur Razzaq
Abdur Razzaq drives bowler Ben Hollioake through mid off
Photo © CricInfo
Other members of the team - especially Abdur Razzaq, Rashid Latif, Saqlain Mushtaq and Saeed Anwar - too have tried to pull their weight, some of them more than others. That way, the entire team deserve the credit. In any case, team spirit in sides on the way up is always rather high, with everyone backing up each other. That seems to be the case with this squad too.

And even the crowd disturbance in the stands, which unfortunately spilled out on to the field, have not been able to take any of the sheen off their performances.

For their part, the Australians in this event look some distance from their peak, and have played to their high standards only in patches. That said, a win is a win and the one over the World Champions is worth savouring.

But having won the dress rehearsal, what about the final? One thing can safely be assumed: with Pakistan's spirits buoyed up, it would be anything but the kind of one-sided affair that the '99 World Cup Final was. In this irresistible form the Pakistanis are more than a match for the Aussies, quite capable of making it two wins in a row against the team best rated in the world. One is already all anticipation for some highly explosive cricket. And may the spectators enjoy it too but, from the stands please.