There are times in the history of a national sport which represent a watershed moment. Basically an event which sparks off a critical change in thought approach and strategy. The Kerry packer series was such a watershed in cricket’s glorious past which gave birth to the ODI format for example.
Pakistan’s cricket has been suffering for a long time after the antics of mullah and co and the oval test. We have been insulted, browbeaten and disappointed to the extent that as fans we would give anything to see our team show some display of the past guts that have earned us what little respect we have left on the world stage.
The last test match against Sri Lanka that we played in National stadium Karachi to me represents such a watershed. When the new captain Yunis Khan put into place after the dismal failings of the recent past, instead of choosing to succumb to pressure that the mammoth first innings lankan total of over 600 represented, played like a leader. He made a total of 313 runs, and refused to give into the likes of Muruli and Mendis, even though on a featherbed, few teams would have been able to shrug of the pressure of such a huge target to emerge as Pakistan did. The team to all our combined delight rallied around the captain with the ex captain Malik and Kamran Akmal of all the people contributing with very useful knocks.
Such was the bravado on display by Team Pakistan that the stadium which had perhaps 50 watchers on the first and second day was almost packed by the last day. Pakistan declared with a lead of 150 or so having made 730 runs plus and then proceeded to rip the heart out of Sri Lankan batting by taking 5 wickets in the space of a few overs to leave them defending at the death for dear life at 140 0dd for 5. Yes the same team which made over 600 runs while batting first had to hang on and if given one more day at facing Pakistan’s attack would probably have lost the match.
This display of tenacity by our team was both hugely welcome and proved a point to the critics of Yunis Khan who led us like a lion. In fact i will go as far as to say that after Imran here is a man who if provided with adequate support can take us the distance. He has talent as well as the ability to lead from the front which is very useful for a setup like the PCB and our cricket. We need someone who can put his foot down and give us results instead of shame. The clincher for me was also that neither Shoaib nor Asif played in this match and our attack still looked good.
Whether we rise to our past glories once again is immaterial at this point, what counts is that we have started to fight once more.