So if you guys were paying attention, I said before that unlike say test cricket, T20 isn’t about great teams or consistency, but about performing when it matters. South Africa and India had awesome teams which messed up – Pakistan had Shahid Khan Afridi. This doesn’t come easily to me. I’ve never been a fan of Afridi. Just like Shoaib Akhtar, Afridi represented a caricature of some of the great players of the past. Someone who bought into the hype of the talented, mercurial Pakistani (and cashed in on it through god knows how many ads), without having the tenacity and discipline to hone his technique in order to become as good as he possibly could. He finally seemed to have reached rock bottom as a batsman when the commentators were making fun of him for closing his eyes when batting.

Well, he proved me wrong. The two innings he played in the semi and final would have done Inzi or Miandad proud. They were intelligent, clinical and judged the moment perfectly. His bowling’s improved to the point where its almost a given, but the best moment of the tournament was ‘that’ catch. The athleticism, the composure and most of all the pose he struck afterwords has iconic moment written all over it. If you want to know why Cantona is so revered, its partly because of his stature which had the man utd fans completely enthralled. Its trite to talk about turning points but that’s probably what I’ll remember most from this victory.

Now, moving onto Super Pippo’s reservations about this win. The main thing is that context is everything. Pakistani cricket was struggling – too many mediocre players, no more home matches, and impending humiliation against Holland and then Ireland. In a way this victory reminds me of Liverpool winning in Istanbul. A comeback against all odds led by one inspirational player. It may not be looked on by all fans like Brazil in 1970, the great West Indian cricket teams or the Federer-Nadal final, but it meant a hell of a lot for supporters of Pakistan.

One note of caution – this could be like the hockey team winning in 1994. Rather than turning around our hockey fortunes, it was one last moment of success before the team continued on its downward march to mediocrity. The only reason this was delayed for a few years was because of the magic wrists of Sohail Abbas. I’m hopeful the same doesn’t happen to cricket – its still the most popular game and unlike hockey, accessible to everyone who has a tape tennis ball and cricket bat.

P.S. This post isn’t intended to diminish the contributions of the other guys. Everything seemed to click into place, from Amir’s opening over to Shahzaib first of all disappointing  us by not being out stumped, then going on to hit 2 crucial fours.

Advertisements