Zimbabwe top popularity charts in Lahore
The first Twenty20 was a must-watch game for us as we wanted to show the world how much we love cricket and that Lahore is safe and sound for any team to visit us without any fear
The first Twenty20 was a must-watch game for us as we wanted to show the world how much we love cricket and that Lahore is safe and sound for any team to visit us without any fear.
Imaginary selfie of the day
Slogans of "selfie" welcomed Ahmed Shahzad in every part of the ground. During the 15th over of innings while fielding in front of me at long-on boundary he stretched his arm and took an imaginary selfie. The crowd behind him went mad. He was not distracted by the chants as three balls later he pouched a well-judged catch running backwards.
There were few big names playing from both sides but Mukhtar Ahmed proved a dark horse. He started Pakistan innings with a flicked four and then twice hit a hat-trick of boundaries. He also broke the record of most fours in an innings by a Pakistan player. He reached his fifty with a six over long-on and the crowd went ecstatic.
One thing you'd have changed
During 1996 World cup final, the Gaddafi stadium accommodated 60,000 spectators but after many renovations, its current capacity is less than half now. And today not a single seat was unoccupied. All stands were packed; around a dozen people outside the stadium asked my group if we wanted to sell our tickets to them. Thousands of cricket lovers had to go back as they failed to find any tickets, missing a golden opportunity. So if I had the power I would have definitely enhanced the capacity of stadium.
When the umpire Ahsan Raza, who was shot while shielding the match referee Chris Broad back in the March 2009 attacks, entered the ground, he knelt down and performed the sajda.
Wow moment 2
When the Pakistan national anthem started, emotions were at their peak and many eyes started to shed the tears of joy. There was jubilation, too, as the people wanted to show the world they were a peaceful cricket-loving nation.
Catch of the day
Ground fielding from both teams was poor. Wahab Riaz missed a simple chance off his own bowling but in the 16th over of Pakistan innings when Mohammad Hafeez came down the pitch and hit the six over bowler's head, a policeman enjoying the match in an under construction stand caught it comfortably.
Shot of the day
Mukhtar Ahmed hit a straight six off Chris Mpofu off a good length delivery and made it look very simple but the shot of the day for me was the one by Shahid Afridi. The crowd cheered whenever a wicket fell during the chase expecting Afridi to show up. When he did come to bat everyone was on their feet shouting, "Boom Boom" and he did not disappoint. I already pointed my friends where he would hit the ball and my hero followed my direction, hitting the low full-toss straight down the ground.
All stands were choked and they did not remain silent for a single second. No opposition can get the support in the sub-continent the Zimbabweans got. Whenever a Zimbabwe player came near the boundary, the crowd went, "Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe" and players acknowledged the crowd happily. As Elton Chigumbura mentioned at the end of the day, they had never experienced such a warm support from the spectators.
Banner of the day
A 30-feet long banner "We miss you, West Indies" in the Fazal Mahmood enclosure caught my eye from a long way away.
The atmosphere was awesome as people had gathered around the stadium five hours prior to the match, ignoring the 45 degree heat of Lahore. The security arrangements were top notch and officials greeted spectators with smiles on every check point, something I never expected. The whole country thanked the Zimbabwe players and everyone praised the officials who helped to organise the match. At the end of the day, I am sure we have won many hearts around the globe with our jazba.
Marks out of 10
Waqas Ahmad, known as Chaudhary, is an Electrical engineer with a telecom company. He follows cricket all around the globe and is the captain of his colony team.
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Waqas Ahmad, known as Chaudhary, is an Electrical engineer and works for a telecom company. He regularly follows cricket all around the globe and has been the captain of his colony team for a decade.