Pakistan’s much-anticipated tour of England has concluded on a high. As we reflect on the sheer efficiency of veteran Professor Hafeez and yet another shimmering promise in the yet childish grin of T20I debutant Haider Ali, the mind is nagged by a relentless feeling of what-if.
Pakistan remained one rain cloud and one test session adrift of what could easily have been a victory in both formats.
It can be debated whether the loss of the first test is owed to a session’s mindless batting or an hour’s sheer helplessness in the face of the inexorable Buttler and Woakes, but everyone is agreed that only one of the two situations alone was surplus to wishes of millions of Pakistani fans. Take one out and the match was ours. Even the English cricket fraternity, rare as it is for them to think outside their own fortunes, have freely admitted that game was not even Pakistan’s to lose, so much did we dominate it. It can easily be argued that the second innings batting collapse was ably aided and abetted by the conditions, as much as it can be argued that the indefatigability of Buttler and Woakes was NOT similarly aided by bad bowling or sloppy fielding. The reflection, if possible, is a lowering as much as a wonderfully humbling one for a Pakistani supporter.
As we reflect on the sheer efficiency of veteran Professor Hafeez and yet another shimmering promise in the yet childish grin of T20I debutant Haider Ali, the mind is nagged by a relentless feeling of what-if.
We are so used to the concept of ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ Pakistan-special, to be all about completely unravelling, that a mere case of ineffective field setting and less-than-perfect bowling strategy is not melodramatic enough to console us. Yes, this helplessness has awakened one to the feeling that those spectacular disasters that can best be described as the spiritual antonyms of Osman Samiuddin’s ‘haals’, contain their own antidote.
While we rail at what we might have described as kangaroo cricket if the team representing our marsupial friend hadn’t put paid to the mere notion, we also reassure ourselves, subconsciously, that with such obvious blunders, it is easy to see that defeat today can easily be converted to victory tomorrow. For the hapless and long-suffering fans of the Pakistan Cricket Team, as panacea it works almost as well as the steaming cup of tea with which we can celebrate every victory and mourn every defeat.
Now though, we are left ruefully shaking our heads at a scenario that is yet to be assimilated in our minds. We are left sobering ourselves with the conclusion that it is possible for what is near enough to Pakistan’s best to fall short of requirement. Yet there is comfort here too. We can, after-all, tell ourselves that we did dominate. We can tell ourselves that just because we have lost a ten-year undefeated streak against England, that does not make England a gram short of a very worthy opponent indeed at their own home.
There is also the cheering reflection that we can lay the events of pretty much most of the rest at the door of rain. Pakistan could theoretically have tied the series by keeping a tighter rein on Buttler and Woakes, and better luck for a teenage talent like Naseem Shah, but the fact that Pakistan had no opportunity to even try to win the series, is definitely up to the English weather playing its not-so-surprising tricks. Certainly the opponent conspired against us in that sense, so much so that the first T20I would most probably have been in the bag and the series, as we now know, along with it.
It can easily be argued that the second innings batting collapse was ably aided and abetted by the conditions, as much as it can be argued that the indefatigability of Buttler and Woakes was NOT similarly aided by bad bowling or sloppy fielding.
We would have done it! We would have succeeded! We would have gotten way with the T20 series win! If only it hadn’t been for those meddling clouds, as Scooby-Doo ‘phantoms’ would conclude their tragicomedy.
I though, prefer to conclude my stories with a happy tone and so, I will list all the positives instead of the fact that we have taken a further hit on the Test Championship Table or the fact that the inimitable Babar is facing the challenge of meeting and surpassing his own standards and of progressing to the next step in the journey toward legend status.
- Babar can not only equal those he is frequently compared to, but in terms of all-format efficacy, he has already demonstrated the ability to (fingers crossed) surpass them.
- Haider Ali is most probably NOT a pinch-hitting sensation and the PCB is led by Ehsan Mani and ably supported by Misbah so he will In Sha Allah NOT fall by the wayside as so many others have.
- Outside of that afore-mentioned cup of steaming tea, nothing is more cheering to the soul than watching Younis Khan celebrate a century or half-century of one of his charges.
- Brian Lara decided that despite the gloomy, morbid, and boring backdrop to the third test and the availability of other things to watch, he would rather watch the Test Captain of Pakistan simultaneously dig himself and his team out of a dark and voracious hole of loss and terrible form.
- Michael Holding has observed that Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, the sums of whose ages make up that of seasoned campaigner Jimmy Anderson, have nought but a bright future to expect, with their ability and maturity beyond their years. For a pace bowler, few things can beat an endorsement from “Whispering Death”.
- Naseem Shah is already impressively mature and canny, and he is about 6 years short of where a fast bowler’s career enters the magic phase…
- Again on Naseem Shah: it never failed to bring a smile to the face when he would do elaborate warm-ups whenever he felt he has been out of the attack long enough, rearing to go as he was despite the fact that his body ought by rights to be too fragile at his age for long spells.
- In giving us Haider Ali, the PSL has managed to do another service. Long may it last!
Pakistan could theoretically have tied the series by keeping a tighter rein on Buttler and Woakes, and better luck for a teenage talent like Naseem Shah, but the fact that Pakistan had no opportunity to even try to win the series, is definitely up to the English weather playing its not-so-surprising tricks.
Stay tuned to Baaghi TV for latest news, updates and interesting content!