From an era where the letter W stood for Wasim or Waqar to an era where a W could possibly stand for Wahab, much had changed for Pakistan cricket. The performance had nosedived. The team had followed a disappointing trajectory marred by intra-team conflicts and politics, checkered by patches of brilliance, bravado, bonkers and betrayal. No wonder the chips were down, but only up till that noon of June.
The Boys put up an unexpected fight in the face of obdurate opposition. The underdogs made short work of the favourites and turned the tables effortlessly. Embellished by batting explosives from Fakhar and Hafeez, firebrand bowling from Amir and Hasan further added flavour to the Indian fallout. The nation, in its entirety, was over cloud nine. Fans who were like cats on hot bricks before the match, went on to be like dogs with two tails after it. It was a victory for all to savour.
Indian fans who were anxious to watch a sensational Shikhar, and see Kohli crack a few, drowned in dismay as the mighty Indian batsmen fell one-by-one like dominoes. It was a drubbing and Indians felt betrayed by their batters more than they felt enfeebled by their bowlers. Pakistan impaired Indian pride, in the same manner they had vitiated ours for a time, by humiliating the department most revered.
In the aftermath of such an unexpected and intensely awaited victory, the players became instant heroes of the public. Each of them received a hero’s welcome upon homecoming, and the elation of the nation was signified by the craze of the crowd that gathered in front of Sarfaraz’s house.
Cricket was zeitgeist and the players seemed ubiquitous. From troll pages to talk shows, they were everywhere to be seen. Millions were showered upon them in a flurry of excitement, by the public and private lot, alike. After all, it was not just a victory, it was a statement. Pakistan had enjoined India to stay put and mum.
But now when it seems that Pakistan has acquired the winning spirit, and a momentum to capitalise on, it’s surprising to hear a player caterwaul like a kid and level serious accusations against the coach.
Umar Akmal is in the news again. Perhaps he has a knack for being in the news, as it’s the only place where he thrives. From a teenage prodigy, to a promising youngster, to a busted flush, he has been through all and can exclaim with pride, “been there, done that”. But now, as he is about to go out of the window of mainstream cricket, he is clutching at straws. Hurling accusations against the coach is an aspect of that. As a response, PCB has categorically rejected his allegations but after so many chances given, it might be time to go the whole hog and rid the team of such rotten eggs, rather than let them damage the morale of the team. A proper probe should be initiated by PCB in this issue, and if found guilty of mudslinging and aspersion, Akmal should be made an example for others who might wish to idolise his bad side. Umar Akmal has a history of throwing tantrums and with the passage of time he is casting himself beyond the pale of redemption, instead of redeeming himself. Neither has Akmal done himself any favour nor should PCB be lax in dealing with him.
Apart from Akmal, Pakistan is on the rise. If things go well, if things go the way they are supposed to, it would be the opponents – whosoever they are – to feel the pressure in the next encounter with Pakistan.