Pak vs UAE: A cornered tiger’s only way forward is to attack
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.