Will Sarfraz Ahmed prove to be Pakistan’s very own Batman?
Last night, whilst watching The Dark Knight Rises, yet again, I realised the city of Gotham has a lot in common with the Pakistan cricket structure. Batman ends up saving Gotham city. Even when he was completely down and out, he did not surrender; and if the Dark Knight didn’t give up, why should Pakistani cricket fans?
In the movie, the mayor of the city was as powerless as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Shahryar Khan, whereas the bureaucratic structure was as inefficient and incompetent as Intikhab Alam. It was natural, therefore, for every Pakistani cricket fan to look for their superhero, their Batman in order to address this downward spiral.
On the eve of March 25, 2016, things began to look bleaker for Pakistani cricket after yet another poor performance during an International Cricket Council (ICC) event. This was the third time the men in green failed to qualify for semi-finals over the past three years at an ICC event. It almost felt like the collapse of Gotham; and just like its desperate residents, there was an increasing sense of frustration amongst the fans.
However, as the sun rose 10 days later, so did a new feeling of hope amongst most cricket lovers in the country, as PCB named Sarfraz Ahmed the T20 captain. As a cricket fan, I feel like I can identify Sarfraz as the superhero we were desperately searching for.
As much as hope and excitement this news may have brought, there is also a need for a reality check. The harsh reality is that the sport remains to be in terrible condition in Pakistan and that cannot change overnight.
But the real question is; what can we actually expect from Sarfraz as a captain in the near future?
To begin with, the best thing about the Karachi-born wicketkeeper cum batsman is, just like any other superhero, he seems to be absolutely clear in his approach towards the game, which is an ideal and welcome factor in a clueless team like ours. This is one of the reasons why so many pundits were calling for the 28-year-old to be named captain.
He emerged on to the scene after rising to an occasion (just like Batman did nearly every time) when he played a tournament-winning innings of 46, not-out, against Bangladesh during the Asia Cup 2012 final.
At a time when the men in green were facing immense trouble with a shoddy score of 133-6 in the 35th over, Sarfraz showed immense maturity in an innings where he hit just four boundaries in 52 balls. He then showed his mettle at Test level, with breath-taking 100’s against Australia and then New Zealand in a home series in the UAE. Through these feats, he managed to rescue his team just like Batman rescued his city.
After seeing him perform with the bat, the then head coach, Waqar Younis, tried him as an opener against the mighty Aussies in an ODI series, where he scored an impressive 65 runs off 72 balls against a strong bowling attack.
His performance at the top forced the team management to use him as an opener in the ICC World Cup as well, where he once again showed that he is the right choice during a period of crisis. He won back-to-back man-of-the-match awards against South Africa and Ireland to help Misbahul Haq’s men qualify for the quarter-final. He then showed his leadership skills as he took the dark-horses, the Quetta Gladiators, to the final of the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
This 28-year-old has a knack for making bold calls under pressure. He brought the experienced Zulfiqar Babar in during the first few overs of the innings; he then backed Mohammad Nawaz to take wickets and used Aizaz Cheema ahead of the experienced Umar Gul. He utilised Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi and New Zealand’s Grant Elliott to good effect and made sure the aggressive nature of the team remained regardless of what happened in the game.
All in all, there is a lot to be excited about when thinking about the prospect of this little fellow leading our team green in the shortest format of the game.
But, is he the superhero we are looking for?
Only time will tell.
There are various reasons as to why people will expect bigger and better things from him, which may be unfair to him as well, but isn’t that how heroes write their story — by thriving under-pressure?
By the looks of it, this story line has all the characters in order for him to emerge as our very own Batman. But just like any other superhero story, he will also have to fight against the prevailing injustice and evil. Unfortunately, the evil here is none other than the cricket board itself.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.