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

Beyond the realm of victory

Dileep Premachandran looks at the enormity of Pakistan's Twenty20 triumph, and how much it means to the country during troubled times

Dileep Premachandran

June 21, 2009

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Shahid Afridi gives Shoaib Malik a hug after sealing the win, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, ICC World Twenty20 final, Lord's, June 21, 2009
This victory could mean even more than the one in 1992. © Getty Images
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This is no Cinderella story. This is about the ugly sister who woke up to find that she had a glass slipper on her feet. Remember that this is the team that has no home series to look forward to in the foreseeable future, the country that had the ICC Champions Trophy taken away from it and given to South Africa. These are the players who were prevented from playing in the IPL, and the same side that was annihilated by South Africa and India in warm-up matches. But less than three weeks on, they are champions of the world. Their fans, who have had to put up with so much over the past few years and whose support has been so steadfast and magnificent, deserve this perhaps more than the players do. This was their moment, one that they won't ever forget.

Younis Khan jokingly called himself the 'Second Khan' at the post-match press conference. In truth, this victory could mean even more than the one in 1992. Back then, despite their inconsistency, Pakistan were the glamour boys of international cricket, big drawcards wherever they went. These days, they have become the pariahs. The players, caught in the crossfire of global politics, have seen their opportunities to shine dwindle, and watched with both envy and curiosity as those with less talent scooped up million-dollar contracts and endorsement deals.

The parallels to 1992 are unmistakeable though. Pakistan don't like doing things the easy way. Not for them the easy stroll in the park, not when they can scramble across an obstacle course that would test an SAS commando. Back in the day when everything smelt like teen spirit, Pakistan lost three of their first five games and would probably have been eliminated but for the Adelaide game against England being rained off. The revival started with convincing victories over Australia and Sri Lanka at the WACA, before back-to-back wins against highly fancied New Zealand put them into the final. Wasim Akram's mastery of swing did the rest.

The mandatory lousy start here included a 48-run thumping by England, and a botched run-chase against the Sri Lankans in the Super Eights. But emphatic victories against New Zealand and Ireland clinched the semi-final place that had eluded the likes of Australia and India, before South Africa, who looked pretty much the complete side, were caught cold by the Shahid Afridi show. There was a re-run in the final, with Abdul Razzaq also chipping in to prove that there really is no substitute for big-match experience.

Afridi and Razzaq were in the squad when Pakistan put up a decent Twenty20 total in a World Cup final at Lord's in 1999. Unfortunately, it was a 50-over contest, and Australia chased down the runs with embarrassing ease. Two years ago, they hauled themselves out of a mid-match ditch to come with a lofted hit of victory against India, but Misbah-ul-Haq's attempted paddle found the fielder and not the rope. Often, a couple of feet is all that separates the sporting immortals from the also-rans.

Watching the lap of honour after the game, I was reminded of one of sport's true Cinderella stories, of the Danish footballers who landed up at Euro '92 after cutting short their summer holidays. Yugoslavia had been banned, and the Danes offered an eleventh-hour invitation. They rode their luck to the final, against a German side that had made its way there while building up their traditional head of big-tournament steam. The final was a mismatch, only it was the mavericks that bossed it against the examplars of consistency.

And like the Danes, Pakistan's support has illuminated this competition. Some might have found the horn-blaring celebrations at Trent Bridge a little foreign, but it's exactly that sort of passion that has kept the game going in Pakistan despite all the trials and tribulations. Lunatics that target even sportsmen may be holding parts of the country to ransom, but the spirit of 1992 was in ample evidence at Lord's today. In times of trouble, the inheritors of the Kardar-Fazal-Imran legacy invariably find a way, and while the world may not yet heed Younis's impassioned plea to go and play there, it's once again been reminded that you ignore Pakistan cricket at your peril.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by khurramzawar on (June 24, 2009, 7:20 GMT)

This victory by Pakistan reminds me of great Wimbledon final between Goran Ivanisavic and Patt Rafter in 2001 Ivanisavic was holding wild card entry into the tournament with three previous final defeats and in a tense and see saw match he evantually came through, after the match Ivanisavic said when asked how did he managed to hold his nerves, he said "I dont know I just said to God oooo please God dont do this to me fourth time again". There is no point in mentioning that enough mess has been thrown to Pakistan Cricket over the last couple of years be it from ICC, BCCI or the terrorists in Lahore. But just when Pakistan was on the Brink of falling into the centre of a hurricane we managed to pull off this win and with stood the storm. This is the fairy tale of our cricket our nation and our country, just when one think we are done and burried we came out blazing. I have no hopes and desire that we will remain the champion team in future but this myth will go on and on.

Posted by faisalnoor70 on (June 23, 2009, 21:10 GMT)

I am really amazed at how the non-Pakistanis have greeted this victory of Pakistan. This is true human brotherhood, after all we are all humans with same stuff running through our veins. But, in this victory the Pakistanis should be humble as we know after the day comes the night. Sri Lankans and South Africans also deserved it as those two teams really layed well, but I think feeling that Pakistani Cricketrs had about being ignroed and humiliated on and off the fled, have made them stroner. At this level all are very good players, so it is not about the talent, it is about how much you want it. This time the Pakistanis wanted it more than anyone else and that spurred them on. The media had a contributing hand to this victory also, because I am pretty sure, when these players were reading about them being called a "lauhable stock", they would have been getting more determined otherwise they would have crumbled under pressure.

Posted by ramsu on (June 23, 2009, 20:31 GMT)

Even I am an Indian i wanted Pakistan should win this world cup as Pakistan people should be relived(at least) from their internal issues.When Pakistan team came to semis i was thinking this matches should be similar to 1992 world cup.Finally they made it as 1992 final.Congrats pak team

Posted by JavedKhanAfridi on (June 23, 2009, 20:12 GMT)

Very fair and balanced article. Pakistan team deserves all the compliments from all the cricket fans all over the world. As was said before the semifinal between SA and Pakistan, it was a contest of Science against arts. Science is cool and calculated, rigid and principled, while arts has more human and emotional touch. So Pakistan's victory is triumph of human energy and zeal over Robotics. It shows to us that Man still rules over machines.

Posted by pakistanicricketlover on (June 23, 2009, 19:45 GMT)

First of all thanks to Allah for this victory. Congrats to all the team and supporters of Pakistan. I have waited all my life for this as I have been watching cricket since I was 11 when we lost in the final 1999. I always wished I was a bit older so I could get to see the 1992 world cup. I am on the top of the world at the moment. Pakistan team has given this great gift to the nation and to its supporters. What made us win was the prayers of so many people that was with the team. You could see how much religion played a part when all the most of the player done the Sajda. I always had hoped that we would win but we always messed up at the last minute. But this time we proved to be too good, performing in the last few matches. A moment the world would never forget. Stand up, Stand back the Champions are back. Inshallah we will win many more.

Posted by asad114 on (June 22, 2009, 20:30 GMT)

I love your articles, Dileep they are unbiased and show your respect and warm appreciation of Pakistan cricket. This is in stark contrast to the article by Sambit Lal in which it is too obvious that he is desperately trying to hide his disappointment at Pakistan's victory. Congratulations to all Pakistanis on this amazing victory, let's hope we carry this momentum into our test matches and one dayers in Sri Lanka.Life is good again, we're the world champions!!!!!!!!Pakistan Zindabad!!!

Posted by pradeep_dealwis on (June 22, 2009, 16:08 GMT)

fitting that a team like Pakistan that is going thru all that it is ,but still had fun playing the game ,won the tournament. great leadership by Younis. Of course i am sad it wasnt us Sri Lankns partying last night..but pakistan ( unusually) worked to plan and was led by Younis brilliantly. they deserved the win 100%. SA was probably the best team, but the final was played by the most exciting two teams, and not the boring overly professional machines. what better testament to the beauty of the game of cricket!!!

Posted by fadooo on (June 22, 2009, 15:51 GMT)

Wonderful article. And thank you to all the indian fans on cricinfo. Hopefully next time it will be an india pakistan final again. Although this time I think it was fitting to have a srilanka pakistan final. As an article on cricinfo mentioned earlier, this final pointed two middle fingers at the terrorists who wanted to destroy everything we hold dear.

Posted by FasihK on (June 22, 2009, 14:47 GMT)

Great article...really moved by your thoughts for Pakistan cricket!Kudos to you too for writting such a piece...the victory itself means a lot for every Paksitani whereever they are.It is true that sports is a great way to bringing people closer.Hats off for the entire Pakistani team for coming through as well deserved champions in difficult circumstances.A job well done!

Posted by Avid.Cricket.Watcher on (June 22, 2009, 9:50 GMT)

Congratulations to Pakistan! From underdogs to top dogs! Very reminiscent of the 1992 World Cup. And given the suffering of ordinary Pakistanis in current times, this certainly is more than a sporting victory. Inspired (and inspiring) performance from Younis Khan's team. Most of all from Afridi...great display of skill, power, spirit and temperament!

Posted by AniruddhaTheWall on (June 22, 2009, 9:17 GMT)

Party Crashingggggg.... feel guilty to barge in the party(as an Indian).. but I want to celebrate too. To win 20/20 world cup a team has to be consistent... and Pakistan did that against all odds. We dont want mechanical robots coached by the book... we want a team like this, flavour of the east. A match winner, a game breaker, one man's talent... celebration of the human spirit over the other so called over worked/tired teams. This Pakistani team loved the game more than the other teams... for them sport is still a sport not a chore (like India). Sri lanka came second (after the attack they realised sport is sport and to enjoy). Finally.. Younis retired not because he is old, but because of the sort of fans we have in India and Pakistan. He is a human, a great cricketer (300 in test against Murali and Mendis)... dont loose him from test and one dayers too. He is a reluctant captain of a team which is unpredictable. Dont take his birth right away by immature expectitions. Let him live.

Posted by hasan09 on (June 22, 2009, 9:17 GMT)

dear pakistani fans its been a rough road to this t20 world cup, we caem in as the underdogs. we almost go knoked out in the 1st round but we made, then caem srilanka lost to them, beating the kiwis and ireland gave pakistan a majestic boost.

then came the toughest challenge of the tournament= beating south Africa a spectaular perfromance from the great BOOM BOOM AFRIDI this guy is a match winner. And last but not least the moment pakistan was waiting for - beating srilanka once again its BOOM BOOM Afridi to the rescue with a gem of an inngs from malik thanks all

Posted by Jawaidnazir on (June 22, 2009, 9:12 GMT)

Nice articale, thanks for your feeling about Pakistan cricket, as a pakistani I am very happy to know that some non Paki's feels like this.

Posted by knightsknights on (June 22, 2009, 9:09 GMT)

"it's once again been reminded that you ignore Pakistan cricket at your peril"......this is exactly the money minded BCCI did and what a strong reply they have got from them.I am especially extremely pleased watching the comeback of one of my fav cricketer Razzak from ICL...what a masterstroke PCB made(though it was lucky that Yasir Arafat was injured).Now I am keenly waiting for the comeback of other pakistani players from ICL into the national side....especially after the retirement of Yunis Khan from Twenty20,especially Imran Nazir.What a batting lineup they will boast of after his comeback!!!!

Posted by bigbang07 on (June 22, 2009, 6:41 GMT)

Congrats to Pakistan, they were the better team last night (im Sri Lankan by the way). The planning to bowl short to Dilshan was smart and that was really the beginning of the end for us. Once we lost 4 wickets, I knew Pakistan had their hands on the trophy even though it wasnt sealed until Udana's over. (Sanath may have been a better option Sanga). Credit to Sri Lanka for coming this far though.

Nevertheless, well done Pakistan and im genuinely happy for their FANS given that they havent seen their team play good cricket for quite awhile. Cherish it, live the moment and enjoy it all!

Posted by SAJN on (June 22, 2009, 5:55 GMT)

Dear Dileep, Excellent article! "it's once again been reminded that you ignore Pakistan cricket at your peril" Thanks for highlighting the true sentiments of our nation & on behalf of millions of Pakistanies I salute you for your beautiful expressions. Many millions from Pakistan join me in praying for your health, happiness, & success in life. Regards AJN

Posted by Nome_n on (June 22, 2009, 5:50 GMT)

Dear Unbias_Mohomads, Can anyone say the winners are talented? Yes, they planned the SL first 6 overs which lost them there match + just rewind 2yrs back the same team was in the Finals against India.

Only the luck has struck...Bowling short deliveries constantly to Dilshan was luck!!right!!Pak for the 1st time chasing SENSIBLY in such a BIG game, AFRIDI not throwing his wicket...

It is the BIG games in which teams show how much competent they are and how badly you need the WIN. PAK team wanted this for its people back home who are coping with day to day miseries and rightly proved it.

In short both proved Winners as they were the only ones who supported each other in tough times.

SL on the other hand has got an excellent leader in Sangakkara.

Last but not the least "The Cup remains in the subcontinent" and for the Indian team (my favs who let me down), boys Cup paros mein hai.

Posted by RoshanF on (June 22, 2009, 5:29 GMT)

Congratulations to Pakistan. I was thinking if Sri Lanka cannot win it then let it be Pakistan. With all the troubles and issues they are facing, for them to have even got to the Finals was a great achivement. And in it they had a better game plan and indeed hunger than the Sri Lankans. Although I must admit that Sri Lanka were the best team in the tournament with South Africa. But on the day Pakistan just played better. And Sri Lanka carried two Twenty 20 misfits in Mubarak and Silva and it was bound to hit them at the worst possible time ie. in the finals and with Dilshan and Jayasuriya failing. It happened and the brittle batting order (due to bad selection) just collapsed under relentless pressure from a worked up Pakistani team.

Posted by ejsiddiqui on (June 22, 2009, 5:21 GMT)

Great article Dileep, seriously it is lot more than just a victory. The whole nation is very delighted.

Posted by Ali_Ammar on (June 22, 2009, 5:13 GMT)

The Comments by Unbias_Mohomads seemed very biased though he /she has tried to diluted the effect by praising Pakistan in the end. Was it only about luck? lolz, then surely indians were thrown out of the tournament due to sheer luck albeit poor performance and tiredness. but this si not eh case. It is all about talent which Pakistanis showed and real winners came out as cup holders.There were no chances, either in batting or bowling and fielding, it was all brilliance, planning, execution, and discipline which borught the victory to Pakistan and they deserve all the applause and congratulations.

Posted by Unbias_Mohomads on (June 22, 2009, 4:07 GMT)

Can anyone say the winners are talented...

Only the luck has struck..... Real talents have washed away and the luck held the trophy. Though Pakistanis played great in the final, its not a talent, obviously its sri lanka's misfortune or poor cricket.

Sangakkara haven't done the right things in the match, he was wrong to give that 18th over to Isuru Udana, not giving Sanath Jayasuriya. Mistaken also in sending Mubarak in up the order.. Though Pakistani's hold the trophy the real champions are Sri Lankan's, Pakistan fall in to the third........ As my opinion from a long time, its not fair to hold one single match as an all important final in any occasion, because it'll not blossom the real heroes, only the luck.... Because any veteran will fail once, as humans but not always, so this type will not take out the real champions, because this was happened in the T20 W Cup in 2007, in there real heroes was Pakistan not Indians, because they had a talent much more than Indians......

Posted by mongo2vini on (June 22, 2009, 3:28 GMT)

What a lovely article especially the last line. Thanks so much for feeling the way we are feeling now about this victory. Its so much more than winning the cup. Its winning back your pride and so much more.

Its like answering all the calls claiming us to be a written off nation. Today we proved everyone worng.

Pakistan Zindabad!!

Posted by Dhitik on (June 22, 2009, 1:11 GMT)

a well written article........congrats to pak team for a stupendous victory, hope they will carry on this form......

Posted by sai_vaddi on (June 21, 2009, 22:23 GMT)

Hi Dileep,

Have been reading your articles for the past 10 years. I am huge fan of cricket never miss even a single article on cricinfo. Great work by you and your colleagues. Great site.

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Dileep PremachandranClose
Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
Tournament Results
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Lord's - Jun 21, 2009
Pakistan won by 8 wickets (with 8 balls remaining)
Sri Lanka v West Indies at The Oval - Jun 19, 2009
Sri Lanka won by 57 runs
Pakistan v South Africa at Nottingham - Jun 18, 2009
Pakistan won by 7 runs
India v South Africa at Nottingham - Jun 16, 2009
South Africa won by 12 runs
New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Nottingham - Jun 16, 2009
Sri Lanka won by 48 runs
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