Before you read further, let me warn you, following are the ramblings of a heartbroken cricket junkie. I am no cricket Guru, nor do I intend on being labelled a keyboard captain. This is no post match analysis. I am merely a distraught fan of Pakistan cricket, whose hopes are forever embedded in her team’s players, regardless of what the world has to say.
Once again, last night, those hopes were shattered as Pakistan tied their game with the West Indies in the third ODI at St Lucia. Us cricket addicts, we never learn do we? Dawdling start by our openers, and what was I thinking? Oh 10 overs and no wicket down, this is amazing! The excruciatingly sluggish run-rate conveniently took a back seat in my mind. And then, as has been the case many a time, the wickets started falling, the runs came ever so slowly. Each player brought with him hope, followed by despair, each wicket more painful than the last. And yet, this dangerous thing called hope never once left my side as I watched with anxiety and faith- a lethal combination.
As hardcore Pakistan cricket buffs, we are trapped in a vicious cycle of accepting ordinary as quality, always finding a reason to support the team that has let us down innumerable times in the recent past, justifying mediocre performances, all for the love of this team, Team Pakistan. They win once, they win our hearts. Such is the power of Team Pakistan. They lose, and here you have it, I am weeping at my keyboard aching for that last run out to have gone our way!
From a senseless cricket fan, to a crazy Pakistan supporter; from an “Afridiot” to a “Misbahtard”, I have been called everything and yet, when the Men in Green grace that cricket ground with their presence, there is a sense of pride in knowing they represent us. Passion trumps logic. I find joy in imagining a glorious victory, much like the thought of getting high for the thrill of it. Hence, it was no surprise when yesterday Team Pakistan walked out onto the field and I felt goose bumps, as always, accompanied by a fiercely beating heart.
So why, boys, must you play with our emotions in such a brutal manner? I have no intention of playing the blame game here, but Misbah, even though I have immense respect for you as a captain (yes, haters will have a field day with this one), decisions made in this 3rd ODI have left me extremely bitter! Why was Wahab Riaz, who was obviously struggling throughout his bowling spell, given the ball in the last over? Why was Hafeez, with his 4 for 16 not utilized for another couple of overs at the very least to contain the well-settled Windies? And why Afridi, must you always toy so mercilessly with our fragile sentiments?
I will refrain from whining about Umar Akmal, because a) he gave Pakistan a score they could defend and b) he was particularly entertaining behind the stumps (I like a chatty man, guilty as charged). That missed chance at the last run-out is forgiveable- he is not a permanent wicket-keeper and he did his job well- which is more than we can say for seventy percent of the team. Needless to say, mistakes were made, expensive mistakes that cost us the game. The cheerful West Indian faces and the frustrated Pakistani faces at the end of the match only further proved that this was our game to win from the time Ajmal and Junaid began to unleash their magic.
The worst part is, and this is where I know I have a serious problem, I still find myself defending my team and their actions. I find myself providing explanations for their less than remarkable performances: Wahab was good with the bat! Hafeez is a clever bowler (even though we really do need him more as a batsman)! And Afridi… well, in the eyes of this devotee anything he does is forgiven.
With a heavy heart, and one that I know will continue to beat fervently for the Men in Green regardless of any level of disappointment it experiences, I close this chapter of yet another cricket game gone horribly wrong. Three down, two to go; Sunday will a new day- the 4th ODI will undeniably bring with it a new bout of hope and fervor. Till then, in the best interest of an overworked and injured heart, this cricket junkie is checking into rehab. Pronto.