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June 22, 2009
Following Pakistan's eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the ICC World Twenty20 final at Lord's, former national captains praised the side as thousands of fans took to the streets across the country. Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq paid tribute to the spirit of the side while Ramiz Raja said this win was even better than Pakistan's World Cup success in 1992.
"We are always slow starters, but once the team started playing as a unit, I knew it would go all the way and lift the World Cup," said Miandad, director-general of the Pakistan Cricket Board. "It's a great achievement."
Ramiz, like Miandad and Inzamam a part of the 1992 champion squad, rated Sunday's victory as more important than the one against England in Melbourne 17 years ago. "It's a major turnaround in a sense that over the last six to eight months whatever has happened in Pakistan it has sent wrong messages," he said. "Nobody was rating this team, but the way they have made a comeback there's no example in our sporting history."
Inzamam gave the credit to Pakistan's bowlers, who consistently did well in the tournament and kept it up in the final to keep Sri Lanka to 138. "The bowlers played a vital role in winning the tournament. Umar Gul, Afridi and Saeed Ajmal bowled superbly throughout," he said. "It's our second biggest achievement since winning the 1992 World Cup."
""This victory comes as a morale booster for a nation beset with political and economic problems," said Imran Khan, under whose captaincy Pakistan lifted the 1992 World Cup.
Meher Mohammad Khalil, the Pakistani driver of the Sri Lankan team bus that came under fire from terrorists in Lahore in March, was one of many fans who watched the final live on a big screen in Lahore. "We desperately needed this victory because there's so much happening around our country," he told the new channel Express News. "Sri Lanka is our friend and it will remain our friend, but I wanted Pakistan to win today's match."
Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari, congratulated the team and announced an award of Rs 1 million (US$12, 300) for captain Younis Khan and Man-of-the-Match Shahid Afridi and Rs 500,000 (US$6,500) for the rest of the squad.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani asked the country to greet the victorious Pakistan team in a befitting manner when it returns home. "I, myself will greet the team at the PM house," he said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.