Pak vs UAE: A cornered tiger’s only way forward is to attack

Published: March 4, 2015
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Pakistan's Mohammad Irfan (R) celebrates with teammates after he dismissed Zimbabwe's Solomon Mire for eight runs during their Cricket World Cup match at the GABBA in Brisbane March 1, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

What do you do when all hope seems lost and there seems to be no way out?

What do you do when all that can go wrong does go wrong?

What do you do when those who support you turn on you?

What do you do when you are backed in to a corner?

Just what is it that you do?

These are some of the questions that the Pakistani cricket team in Australia and New Zealand were confronted with almost a week ago.

After two harrowing defeats against India and the West Indies, Pakistan finally seems to be gathering some much needed steam while heading into the business end of the tournament, with two successive victories, albeit against weaker teams like Zimbabwe and the UAE.

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

But despite the turnaround, it has not been smooth sailing for the team in terms of  winning back their supporters, many of whom it had lost in the wake of the opening losses and questionable team selection.

From being labelled as the worst team to represent Pakistan at a World Cup to predictions regarding a first round exit, there seemed to be no show of support for the men in green almost a week ago.

The image of the team was further tarnished by remarks from Shoaib Akhtar, describing the team and Misbahul Haq as a source of embarrassment for himself across the border, and remarks from the king of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Najam Sethi, cautioning against high expectations from a team which was devoid of its first-choice players, both due to injuries and suspensions. With so much negativity surrounding the team, it had become highly impossible to expect them to perform to their true potential.

Pakistan now, though like always, seems to be just a step away from finding its rhythm. A few changes in the line-up here and there and a big match against South Africa may help them finally step up their game.

Photo: Reuters

But regardless of what shall happen, I want our team to know that, no matter what anyone says, there is still a plethora of fans out there who choose to remain optimistic and take solace in the current advertisement campaigns which draw a parallel to the events of the 1992 World Cup. We are praying that they may eventually turn a corner.

I have a message for our players and the management team: You are not alone, we are with you and we stand by you during this hour of need. Our support, our love, and our passion for our cricket team are unconditional and we will stand by you no matter what happens. Do not get bogged down by criticism.

We are a nation of fighters. Despite all the adversity we face, we manage to find a way to shine. Had we been the sort who gave up and succumbed to the pressure, terrorists would have gotten the better of us and our enemies would have succeeded. But that has not happened and shall never happen.

Yes, we have a few shortcomings and may not be as exceptional as the teams of the past, or as other competing nations are in the tournament, yet each player is extraordinary in his own right. Even though our team has not played a match in our home ground for the past six years, we have managed to bag victories all over the world.

Our team is led by two players, who are the absolute best at what they do and manage to complement one another.

Photo: AFP

Misbah, our team captain, is a true champion who never gives up. His defiance in the face of adversity is legendary. The manner in which he has led us with stability over the past few years is admirable. He has never been the sort to shy away from a crisis, which makes him a remarkable player. How we are going to miss him when he is no longer around.

Photo: Reuters

His antithesis, Shahid Afridi, is the heartbeat of our generation. He has enthralled us over the years with his superb batting and spectacular bowling. He is the last remaining link who connects us to the past glory days of the 90’s. Despite his many batting failures, his last over against UAE is a source of optimism and motivation for Pakistani fans, and himself too.

Photo: AFP

Our team does not need to look beyond these two for inspiration.  These men need to come together and lead us to victory. All is not lost. We have full faith in our team. Remember, it is the darkest before dawn and when cornered, a tiger’s only way forward is to attack.

So step forward Team Pakistan and let’s do this, as #WeStillBelieve.

Photo: AFP

hussein.ansari

Hussein Ansari

A Corporate Lawyer with core specialisation in advising clients on transactional work.He is currently working with the leading corporate Law Firm Sattar & Sattar, Legal Counsels. He tweets twitter.com/ansariha

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Waleed Alvi

    For how long will we take solace in the run of 1992. We need to accept the bitter truth that we aren’t even a shadow of the championship sides of the previous era.Recommend

  • Hammad

    Sarfraz in for Nasir
    Yasir in for Sohail.

    That would make it a perfect XI.Recommend

  • Bored troll

    Pakistan scored 339 runs against UAE while Indians could score only 103….

    Pakistan batting is better than Indian battingRecommend

  • hussyfan

    I absolutely agree with the writer, and am inspired by his passion and commitment to Pakistan, and our team! Thank you Hussein Ansari, for reminding us all that we truly are a nation that fights to the end, even with no sign of hope on the horizon. I am with you! Recommend

  • nrmrao

    You can also go belly-up, with all fours in the air, if the opponent is not a beginnerRecommend

  • Jb

    Hussain Ansari for President of Pakistan! You go Hoss!Recommend

  • JA

    Waqar needs to become more aggressive.Recommend

  • Naveed Alam

    As strange as this may sound I think Nasir should play. He will hopefully come good at some point. And with RSA’s bowling attack not looking as threatening as it was a few months back I have my money on him to perform.Recommend

  • aghast

    Young man has amply exhibited that he is stranger to any sport. What tigers is he talking about. If writing such articles could make us champions then we would be soon. Get real Mr Nadir, you don’t become tigers by winning from weak teams.Recommend

  • PK

    Nasir has had his chance. He is like the second Imran Farhat who despite mediocre performances at the domestic level manages to make it into the team somehow. We should play Sarfraz as an opener now although he is not the answer to your opening conundrum in the long run. The more he is forced to sit on the bench the more under-confident he will become. Post WC we should think of blooding in someone like Babar Azam.Recommend

  • Cricket Fan

    They should have taken Hammad Azam.Recommend

  • Aamer Ajmani

    This Hash tag should be trending right now. #WeStillBelieveRecommend

  • PakCricket

    I have a feeling we’ll beat RSA tomorrow.Recommend

  • Hammad

    Great article.Recommend

  • Nadir Khan

    It is good that Pakistan has had all these batting collapses so early in the tournament. I think that facet of their batting is out of their system now and would be better prepared to tackle the bowling of the likes of Steyn and co. heading into the business end of the tournament.

    That said they should not get overly-excited by their batting display against the likes of UAE.Recommend

  • Ahmer Raja

    Very well written article. Always heartening to see and hear fans supporting their team despite the turmoil and rut they are stuck in. #WeStillBelieve.Recommend

  • Charlie Chappatti

    In 92 we had the cornered tigers.

    Now we have the neutered tigers.

    A jingoistic attitude will only get you so far. The thrashing of Brazil by Germany in last years world cup is a brilliant example of how emotional, nationalistic, tribal chest beating is easily beaten by a cool calculating well prepared opponent.

    SA need to do us a favour and give us the thrashing we need in order to re-examine the fundamentals of our entire approach.Recommend

  • Rizwan Rehman Khan

    True! For Pakistan to win Afridi has to click. Can’t afford to carry him as a deadweight allrounderlike in previous editions of the tournament. He has to perform with both bat and ball everytime to ensure Pakistan succeeds in the WC Especially with no Hafeez in tge team.Recommend

  • GGMU

    Solid argument. Kudos to the writer.Recommend