Why Islamabad United’s victory celebration was a breath of fresh air

Published: September 26, 2016
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Cricket is the binding force that brings people together during times of sorrow, despair and happiness. PHOTO: GETTY

Our very own Internet darling, Momina Mustehsan, giving her thoughts on women empowerment, Shakeel Sheikh finally coming to terms with Misbahul Haq’s success, Ahmer Naqvi performing duties and no ‘bhabhi, bhabhi’ chants every time Shaneria Akram came on screen – Islamabad United’s celebratory match in Rawalpindi was a genuine celebration of things finally heading in the right direction – a celebration of cricket in Pakistan.

Our grounds have been deprived of such jovial occasions for over past nine years because of one act of terror that refuses to detach itself from us. When plans for Pakistan Super League (PSL) were in its preliminary stages, it received undue criticism from people who were supposed to own it.

When plans for Pakistan Super League (PSL) were in its preliminary stages, it received undue criticism from people who were supposed to own it. Photo: File

It was labelled as a bound-to-fail proposition for many factors including its location, clash with the Masters Champions League and a lack of top names. PSL became a reality, attracted large numbers, catered two geographically separate markets and fully convinced people to invest their emotions into every happening. The event in Rawalpindi was a celebration of Pakistan formally introducing themselves to the cricketing world and to some of their own as well.

Captain Misbah and Muhammad Sami of Islamabad United
Photo: Humari Web

At that time, Pakistan had hit rock-bottom and things only worsened when Pakistan’s name was thrown into a spot-fixing scandal. Misbah took charge of what was a group – not a team – plagued with leg-pulling, groupings and self-serving figures, those who had grown to become larger than the organisation itself.

Misbah, combined with the efforts of Waqar Younis, Dave Wathmore, Mohsin Khan and every other individual involved, invested his emotions, sweat and time into the group with the sole intention of creating a new and spotless identity for Pakistan.

The introduction of PSL was a historic accomplishment and it was only fitting for Misbah to score the winning runs for Islamabad United and have his name go down as the very first winning captain. The event in Rawalpindi was a celebration of the six years of Misbah that allowed Pakistan to re-conquer the world and play a brand of cricket that was respected, admired and loved by everyone.

The introduction of PSL was a historic accomplishment and it was only fitting for Misbah to score the winning runs for Islamabad United and have his name go down as the very first winning captain. Photo: ESPNcricinfo

One of the highlights of the evening was, unsurprisingly, Dean Jones. While many would gladly bring forward arguments suggesting that Pakistan is unsafe for tours, Dean Jones is certainly not one of them. Whether it was him playing mind games with Amad Butt on the ground, coming down the track to hit Kamran Ghulam for a six, spending time with the crowd or simply giving his thoughts on the upcoming tour of Australia, Dean did not, for a moment, display any emotions of fear or discomfort.

His Urdu tweets were largely appreciated by people in Pakistan and are only indicative of the undying love and yearning that these fans have for international cricket to return home once again. The event in Rawalpindi was a celebration of hope that sooner, rather than later, our stadiums will be used for their original purposes and hope that Pakistan is capable of making the shift from a warzone to comfort zone.

One of the best moments of the evening was witnessing Misbah and Javeria Khan bat together. The involvement of players from Pakistan’s women’s team was a welcome addition. Pakistan’s newly appointed T20 captain, Bismah Maroof, Diana Baig and rising sensation, Anam Amin, were all involved in the match.

Anam Amin, 24, outshined her teammates as she replicated similar form from her memorable World Cup spell against India and troubled both Javeria and Misbah with her left-arm offspin bowling.

In the past few years, women’s cricket has begun breaking the shackles of societal norms and stereotypes in Pakistan and demands more attention. Beating the Indian women’s team in India, issuing of central contracts for the first time and start-ups like Khelo Kricket organising Ramazan tournaments for the women of Karachi are notable steps that indicate the serious progression of women’s cricket in Pakistan.

start-ups like Khelo Kricket organising Ramazan tournaments for the women of Karachi are notable steps that indicate the serious progression of women’s cricket in Pakistan. Photo: Khelocricket

The event in Rawalpindi was a celebration of female cricketers who perform with the same drive and passion as the men’s team and want nothing more than words of encouragement from the public.

Islamabad United’s victory and celebrations cannot be confined or classified as any other major tournament win because cricket is more than simply any other sport in Pakistan. Cricket is the binding force that brings people together during times of sorrow, despair and happiness. Through the event, Islamabad United and Pakistan succeeded in bridging the gap between men’s and women’s cricket, displayed the soft, welcoming nature of Pakistan to the world and brought back much-needed smiles on usually tensed faces – all while celebrating, a simple act of bat and ball; cricket.

Muhammad Mustafa Moeen

Muhammad Mustafa Moeen

Muhammad has worked as a sports reporter for the Web Sports Desk of The Nation.

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