2017: An immensely successful year for Pakistan cricket

The political scenario which Pakistan is going through these days is not very pleasing, and the year 2017 has proved to be quite complicated for Pakistan politics.

In spite of the fact that Pakistan politics is having a tough time, Pakistanis never stop craving for positivity and never seem to give up the spirit of optimism.

Pakistanis have always proven themselves to be the most resilient nation of the world in every kind of situation. The courageous approach that this nation possesses is incredibly extraordinary.

Sports stands vice versa to politics. Cricket is the sport that holds special significance among all others in Asian countries, especially in Pakistan.

Although the national sport of Pakistan is Hockey (the decline of which is a whole different debate), cricket attains the highest rank among all sports.

The Pakistani people possess an extraordinary passion for Cricket. This sport is that binding force which integrates different individuals together and, no matter how many ideological conflicts exist among them, when it comes down to cheering for the Pakistan Cricket team, all the spectators present either in the stadiums or sitting in front of their TV sets, appear as a single body.

 

Cricket unites Pakistan.

The Pakistan cricket team is itself a paradigm of accord and unity. There is absolutely no dearth of talent in Pakistan since this land has produced and is ceaselessly producing big names in the world of cricket.

The legendary players will always be remembered in the history of world cricket.

The contemporary team comprises a balanced combination of veteran and young cricketers. The way the seniors and juniors together make this team is appreciable. The experience and skills of senior players like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez prove an immense advantage for the juniors.

Now Pakistan has once again restored its reputation of being the world’s best bowling side with a variety of versatile bowlers.

Having pacers like M. Amir, Hassan Ali, Rumman Raees, Faheem Ashraf and Junaid Khan, plus various spinners such as the latest addition of the 19-year-old Shadab Khan, left-arm slow bowler Imad Wasim, the senior spinners Shoaib Malik and M. Hafeez, Pakistan has left behind the world’s greatest bowling attacks.

Pakistan cricket team possesses extremely talented and enthusiastic, young blood loaded with vigor and liveliness. These young guns have further added to the zeal and zest of Pakistanis through their tremendously high morale.

The year 2017 proved to be a blessed year for Pakistan Cricket. Although the start to the year with a series of five one day matches against Australia was rather disappointing; the way Pakistan bounced back with an entirely new spirit and team is incredible.

Things started working for Pakistan just as the ODI captaincy was handed over to Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was already the captain of T20 format.

From that point, the journey of successive victories began. It is safe to say that Sarfaraz Ahmed is the best thing that has happened to Pakistan cricket.

His exceptional leadership qualities have completely transformed the team. This leader has merged all the players into a single entity, which is the most positive factor in building a bright future of Pakistan Cricket.

In February 2017, the most awaited, star-studded event of the second edition of Pakistan Super League appeared on the scene, which was much bigger, better and more thrilling than the first one.

PSL-2 provided the Pakistan Cricket team with fresh and talented cricketers such as the left-handed batsman Fakhar Zaman and the youngest one in the squad, Shadab Khan, who not only deceives the batsmen with ball, but also can do wonders with the bat when required.

 

The historic final of PSL-2 was organized in Lahore, where various international prominent names landed after eight years. This exuberant event was another milestone achieved by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Pakistan headed to West Indies for the next series from March to April that comprised of four T20Is, three ODIs and three Tests, in which the Shaheens managed to attain a convincing victory over the hosts in all three formats. Although that did not help Pakistan jump up spots in ICC ODI rankings (remained at number 8), yet this was the first time Pakistan had won under the captaincy of Sarfaraz Ahmed in two formats.

It is important to remember that statistically, Pakistan’s winning percentage under Sarfaraz’s headship in T20Is and ODIs is exceptional. According to the latest ICC rankings, Pakistan is the number one T20 side of the world, while holds sixth rank in ODIs.

The next and the greatest challenge for Sarfaraz and team was the mega event of ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Who could have imagined that a team holding the lowest, 8th rank among the teams participating in the contest, would leave the world stunned?

After the majorly disappointing defeat in the first match against the arch-rivals India, the Shaheens made an unbelievable come-back in the competition.

The consecutive wins led Pakistan to the final where, once again, green shirts encountered the blue shirts on June 18th, 2017.

That final of the contest in which Pakistan beat India by a great margin of 180 runs, is definitely another historic day for Pakistan cricket which can never be forgotten.

Pakistan’s bowler Hassan Ali and batsman Fakhar Zaman proved to be the heroes of the mega event.

Just like ICC World Cup 1992, Miandad’s match-winning enormous sixer in Sharjah Cup and the T20 World Cup, the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 will always be mentioned in golden words in Pakistan’s cricket history.

The then 8th ranked squad outclassed the world’s top teams and earned the title of “champions”after which Pakistan jumped up to 6th spot in ODI rankings.

Above all, the greatest milestone was achieved when cricket came home with the team World XI in September and both teams faced each other in the Gaddafi Stadium for the Independence Cup.

Although the champions preserved this title by winning the three T20-match series, the opposition conquered the hearts of all Pakistanis.

The predictably unpredictable green machine, just as Danny Morrison calls it, retained its winning momentum by attaining a sweeping victory in the next series against Sri Lanka in which the green shirts broke earlier records and produced numerous new ones.

A new, extremely talented and young batsman, Imam-ul-Haq was added to the squad, whose tonne in his debut match attested his capabilities.

Moreover, Pakistan’s young all-rounder Faheem Ashraf also proved his skills by taking his first hat-trick. The final T20 match of the series was held in Lahore on 29th of October.

The Pakistani nation has great expectations from this young squad and hence their hopes are elevated.

However, it is still to be seen if the Pakistan Cricket Team can retain this momentum and can remain consistent in the upcoming tour to New Zealand, for a series comprising of five One-Day Internationals and three T20I matches in January 2018 – that is the next great challenge for Sarfaraz and his army.

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