Today: Pakistan lost.
I blame myself, and my new found admiration for Pakistani cricket.
The eternal optimist in me however does see them winning the next three ODIs in the Emirates.
You heard it hear first.
A thrilling come from behind series victory would cap off what has been a very successful series overall.
It is actually a little odd, historically speaking, to watch them excel in the test format but struggle in the limited overs format, as their biggest successes have come in One Day Internationals and T2OIs.
Three stand out, as I mentioned yesterday: The 1986 Australasia Cup, the 1992 World Cup, and the 2009 World Twenty20 Cup.
But allow me to digress a little:
I have at least a handful of American readers who know nothing of the sport. When I first started the blog, I wrote with them in mind as my audience. Recently, however, I have written with actual cricket fans as my intended audience, and have evidently spurned my non-fan readers by talking over their heads.
International Cricket has three main formats: Test, One Day International, and Twenty20.
Test cricket is the oldest format, and the most interesting of the three. In it: each team bats until the bowling team gets 10 wickets, or outs. And then the team that was bowling gets their turn to bat. And then the first team bats again, and then the second team bats again. The team with the most runs at the end of the two “innings” is the winner. If time runs out (five days, six and a half of hours of play per day) before a team gets their “fair ups”, then the game is a draw.
Limited overs cricket does just that: it limits the overs. An over is six deliveries – or pitches.
One Day International limits each teams’ overs to 50 each. Basically, they get 300 pitches to score as many runs as possible. If the bowling team gets 10 of the batting teams’ wickets, then their turn is over, no matter if they have had all of their overs.
Then bowling team gets their 300 pitches. And the team with the most runs wins.
The games last about 6-8 hours; it is the format used in the World Cup.
Twenty20 is the newest form, and its more egregious bastardization: each team gets 20 overs to score as many runs as possible and the games last about three hours.
It is currently the most popular format, though most cricket snobs, myself included, turn their noses up at it.
I hope that helps, though I am sure I just confused things even more.
Anyway: Pakistan’s three most glorious moments:
The Australasia Cup, 1986:
The Australasia Cup was a One Day International tournament that initially featured the nations of Pakistan, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka. Bangladesh joined in on the fun in 1990, but were replaced by the United Arab Emirates in 1994.
The 1994 tournament was the last Australasia Cup – it was later more or less replace by the ICC’s Champions Trophy.
All three incarnations of the tournament took place in the UAE – and all three were won by Pakistan.
But the 1986 Cup was the big one: as it saw Pakistan defeat India in front of 20,000 spectators with the final ball of the final over.
The over started with Pakistan needing ten runs to win. Wasim Akram was run out with the first ball. Javed Miandad scored four with the second ball, and another one with the third ball.
In the fourth delivery, Chetan Sharma bowled Zulqarnain who was replaced at the crease by Tauseef Ahmed. He singled off of the fifth delivery, putting Miandad back on strike:
His team needed three to tie, four to win:
So he hit a six.
Wonderful scenes, surely, for Pakistan. Defeating their bitter rivals with the final ball, of the final over.
This article sums it up thusly:
“Do you remember where you were when…? When Pakistanis of my generation say this to each other there are several ways in which the sentence might end: when Zia was killed; Bhutto was hanged; democracy returned; Pakistan went nuclear; troops withdrew from Kargil; the military took over, again. But, more often than not, the sentence ends: when Miandad hit that six.”
In 1992, Pakistan’s good fortunes in One Day Internationals continued: winning their first World Cup.
The tournament took place in Australia and New Zealand. It featured all seven test playing nations, as well as South Africa and Zimbabwe.
It was a straight round robin involving all the teams, the top four finishers advanced to the semi-finals, and then the finals.
Pakistan finished fourth, just one point higher than Australia and the West Indies.
In their first group match, they were crushed by the West Indies by 10 tickets. In their second, they defeated the minnows Zimbabwe by 53 runs; and their next match against England ended with no result.
Then they lost to India.
It was not going well for Pakistan. Through four group games they had won one and lost two.
And it didn’t get any better, as they lost to South Africa in their fifth match by 20 runs (D/L method.)
But then they beat Australia by 48 runs; then defeated Sri Lanka four wickets; and then defeated New Zealand by seven wickets, putting them into the semi-final against New Zealand – thanks to the one point they received in the “no result” match against England, a match that looked to be going England’s way before being washed out.
In the semi-final, they demolished New Zealand, winning their first semi-final in four tries.
In the thrilling final, they defeated England by 22 runs.
Imran Khan, in his last One Day International, took England’s last wicket.
Javed Miandad (there he is again) scored the most runs for Pakistan in the tournament, with 437. The highest score in an innings came from Rameez Raja with 119* against New Zealand in the final group stage match.
Wasim Akram was their best bowler, by far, going 89.4-3-338-18.
A special tournament from a special player.
2009 was a difficult year for Pakistan.
Violence had raged in the nation post 09/11.
In 2003, 164 people died in terrorist related attacks.
In 2009, that number had risen to 3,318, a 48% increase over 2008’s total.
To put that into perspective: 2,996 people were killed in the September 11th attacks.
In other words: in 2009, Pakistan needed something to cheer for.
And they got it, in the form a World Twenty20 Cup victory.
And while that might sound like hyperbole to some, Pakistanis adore cricket, and their cricketers. There is nothing to compare it to here in the States.
The tournament took place in England. Pakistan lost their first group stage match but won their second to advance to the knock out stages; where they defeated South Africa in the semi-final, and Sri Lanka in the final.
Shahid Afridi carried his team. Taking two wickets and scoring a half century against South Africa, and then scoring another half century in the final.
He gave Pakistan a victory, when his country needed it most.
The more I read about this team, the more I love them.
I was searching for a conclusion to these moment, about how to tie them all together.
What they mean for Pakistan, the country…and what they mean for cricket…
But then I remembered this wonderful article posted on The Sight Screen.
The conclusion stands out:
“What we ask of cricket is not redemption, but a chance to know that beauty, passion, desire and belief can be real, visceral, true experiences, even if for only a moment.”
Thank you, Ahmer Naqvi, you said it better than I ever could, so yours will be the last words of consequence.
Until next time.