I watched Pakistan scare the Kangaroos

Published: March 26, 2011
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There was sporadic dancing by the Sri Lankan youth outside the stadium.

As I boarded the flight to Colombo to watch Pakistan play Australia, I wondered why I was going.

All the matches I had ever seen Pakistan play in a stadium dating back to 1987, we had lost. Also, we were playing the mighty Australians who were on an unbeaten 34 match streak.

I comforted myself with the thought that the unpredictable Pakistan could tame the Australians.

There were so many Pakistanis in Colombo that it seemed like I was in Karachi or Lahore. The second I told anyone I was from Pakistan, they assumed I was there to watch the match and wished the Pakistan team the very best.

Before we left for the stadium on Saturday, I saw a banner that said it all:

Pakistani brethren, welcome to a home away from home. You stood by us in the 1996 World Cup when others refused to play in Sri Lanka. We stand by you now.

And, indeed, they stood by us. A full stadium at the R Premadasa Stadium had scores of enthusiastic fans supporting Pakistan.

They cheered our national anthem, breathed a sigh of relief as Kamran Akmal took catches, jeered Ricky Ponting as he stood his ground after a clear edge and showed their disappointment as Afridi skied unnecessarily to Brett Lee.

Then the celebrations started.

There was sporadic dancing by the Sri Lankan youth outside the stadium, where cheers of “Pakistan Zindabad!” could be heard.

The trip took on a different meaning when we met the Pakistani team at the hotel. They were happy to give autographs, take pictures and answer questions. They were at their courteous and humble best.

The Australians were there too. But the players refused to have their pictures taken simply saying “no pictures in the hotel”. We thought they were being rude and muttered “sore losers” but then I realised why they were being careful.

As the Pakistani players sat down, chatted and relaxed in the company of their loyal fans, we saw a stern looking gora take notes and even saw him make a sketch.

Suddenly, I realised why the Australians were so distrustful of ‘friendly’ Pakistanis.

Though there may not have been anything to worry about, people like Mazhar Majeed have cast an ugly shadow over the game.

I truly treasure the warm gestures of my team’s players and I hope they will be more careful and follow the anti-corruption codes of the ICC.

 

ali.wahab

Ali Wahab

A UAE based investment banker who is a regular contributor to The Express Tribune’s business pages

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

  • Dr. Amyn Malik

    I am sure it must have been a great experience to witness the end of an era! Pakistan team has really done well so far and let’s hope it goes all the way!Recommend

  • AB Ahmed

    The sri lankans must be appreciated for supporting pakistan in the important match. The picture which the author is talking about (the banner) that should be posted and circulated to show the great relations with the Sri LankansRecommend

  • junaid

    hope the unpredictables show their feat yet again in semis!!!and that gora affair:give it a heck!how else will they satisfy their ego then??Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha S.

    Whether we win the cup or not , Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis must be appreciated for their support.Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim

    Those of us who were mature in 1971, can never forget the steadfast support of the people and
    government of Sri Lanka. Who knows if a child’s prayer is accepted the finals could be played in Mumbai between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Then whether we win or lose it matters not, both of
    us will welcome the other’s victory;Recommend