Champions Trophy Tour Diary, 10th June

Champions Trophy Tour Diary, 10th June
Edgbaston Stadium, BIRMINGHAM: Leaving behind the narrow lanes, crowded streets, never ending traffic queues and the Victorian concrete jungle that we call London, it was a welcome change to step in a much more relaxed and wide open city of Birmingham. Just think that you moved from Karachi to Multan. Suddenly you feel a heavy load off your shoulders, your legs start feeling light and you seem to have all the time in the world at your disposal.

I was told that Brum (the beloved short form for the locals) could be best described as Mini Pakistan, they were so right. The city proudly displays wider lanes, picturious English architecture, elegant water canal path that would remind you of Venice, cheap taxi and remarkable cuisine. It showcases the most diverse culture in UK, a Mix-Achar of Pakistani, Indians, Goras and a host of different nationalities.

Match day at Edgbaston ground was a fun filled and colorful experience. Needless to say that the place was virtually taken over by Pakistani fans. They were joyous, excited, infact hyper active and for once enjoyed the luxury of breaking traffic rules without the fear of being caught. The police understood their emotions and knew that touching them here could be hazardous. Infact, they too were enjoying the festivity.

Pakistani fans come in from all over UK, as far as Germany, Los Angles, Boston and even guys from Karachi flew in to enjoy the game. With haunted stadiums back home, watching their team play here was a momentous experience for those who could afford it.

And yes, they came dressed in all funky ways imaginable. Pakistan culture was perfectly showcased. Amazingly, they somehow managed to arrange a ‘Tuk Tuk Rickshaw’ and kept it running around the stadium with a continuous hand on the screaming horn. Behind that awaited a few more surprises, a Double Decker London bus decorated in Pakistani colors hopped on by fanatics murdering their vocal cords with pumping slogans. Chacha Cricket was specially flown in for the matches and so was a new upcoming hero, our very own Captain Pakistan. A native fellow named Shahid from Los Angeles cooked up this innovative idea and instantly attracted local attention. Guess Chacha needs some fast-track re-imaging done.

The atmosphere was charged and so were the emotions. Pakistan needed a win against a B Protease side and no one was even giving defeat a chance. How I wished these emotions would energize the blades of our batsmen. Feeling the excitement run through my spine, yet keeping in mind the vulnerability of our beloved stars, I decided to watch the match with the crowds, in a quest of getting a firsthand experience of their temperamental swings.

The first half was an everyone is happy affair with the Pakistani arsenal once again gunning down the Protease. Saeed Ajmal is the crowds darling, but special cheers were showered for the commitment shown by Irfan and Wahab Riaz. 234, a fairly reachable target, victory in sight but the fear of another tumultuous collapse forcing all to put up only a half smile.

A friend brought me fish and chips to munch, but just like the one in my hand, Pakistani batsmen soon proved to be like a fish out of water. Trembling and twisting as if some fisherman had extracted life out of them. They kept coming and going back, exhibiting the strong brotherhood that exists in the dressing room. These lovable characters can’t be kept apart for long and the scorecard is an ample proof of their strong bonding.

It was now time for mood-swing to take center stage. With every walk back to the pavilion, admirations were replaced with slangs. The ‘ Saday-Hero Zindabaad, Shabahs Sheron,Come’on Pakistan’ suddenly turned into ‘Fittay-Muh, Baigharat hain Sab, Bhudun koh Bahar Nikalo’. I love these mood swings, such is their passion that a clumsy performance shoots their blood pressure to immeasurable heights.

And now it was time for some sizzling controversies. Learning that I represent Geo, I was surrounded by a couple of highly knowledgeable cricket experts who knew everything there was to happen. One guy had a very interesting theory, “Ashar Bhai, 5 guys who didn’t score in the first game didn’t score here, and 2 guys who scored at oval scored here as well, there is something seriously wrong within the camp”.

This was followed with a reversed strategy option, “The lower order has scored more runs than our top order, how about opening the innings with Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal?” I couldn’t help killing myself with laughter, love you Pakistani fans.

Eventually we lost, fans were dejected but unlike back home nothing were torched and no signals damaged. The frustration was vented out on Pakistani players as they mounted their buss. Abuses rained freely and even a water bottle hurdled that sadly missed its target.

With four days of no cricket, its time to explore the country side….

Ashar Zaidi

A Sports correspondent at Geo New

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