Lahore, the city termed as heart of Pakistan, known for its food and culture. Men are gathered around an old 12″ TV in a dilapidated tandoor, eagerly waiting for Muhammad Amir to bowl to Virat Kohli. This is the player they loved, they cheered, they prayed for- and now they knew this would be the ultimate redemption. Amir jogs in, the normal pulse rate has shot to 85, bowls on the fourth stump channel, Kohli edges it.
Looks like time has stopped all of a sudden.
The ball flies towards Azhar Ali. He makes a meal out of a simple catch.
His parentage is questioned by everyone in the room, his presence in the team is questioned, and he gets the worst abuses known to mankind. Shoulders are dropped. They know that they have dropped the cup, but somehow they’ve still managed to convince themselves that anything can happen. They still watch the television, faces red with anger but hearts filled with hope, albeit tiny rays.
The kid is disgruntled, he missed half of Pakistan innings due to load shedding. It was extra hot in Rawalpindi that day, his fast was difficult to manage. He missed the rare flawless display of batting from Pakistan. Now after the latest drop, his patience was running thin. He wanted to see his best bowler getting their best batsman Kohli out. He almost celebrated when Kohli edged to Azhar Ali. Amir paces in, bowls another quick one on the fifth stump channel, Kohli tries to work it on the leg side. The ball lobs in the air, pacing like a tracer bullet.
Everyone holds their breath. From the men in tandoor to the kid in Rawalpindi. Time stands still, again.
This time, Shadab takes it. Whole Pakistan erupts in joy- from the kid in the mohalla to the housewife preparing dinner. They know it’s their time now, the curse is about to be broken.
The teenage kids in Khuzdar have slipped out from taraweeh, they know they’ll get spanked afterwards but it was a risk they were willing to take. India 9 down in the final, Pakistan posting a mammoth total, they haven’t seen Pakistan beating India since 2009 in an ICC tournament. One kid takes out his new mobile, everyone pitches in 10-20 rupees. They give it to the mobile shop guy, and activate data package.
Hassan Ali ready to bowl, what would effectively be last ball of the tournament. Pakistani players’ hearts are racing, they feel that they have finally broken the hoodoo. Hassan Ali jogs in, goes through his front on bowling action, something you rarely associate with Pakistani bowlers. He keeps the length short, Bumrah meekly decides to pull-cum-Dil-scoop, the ball loops up in the air, Sarfaraz takes the catch. Pakistan win. 180 million people leap in joy, wide smiles on their faces, hugging each other in disbelief. They’ve finally done it.
Who would’ve thought a team which barely made it to this tournament would end up winning it? Who would have thought the team which was annihilated by the same opponent a fortnight ago will emerge victorious on the grandest of stages? Who would’ve thought a team notorious for its batting collapses will post the highest total of the tournament in the final? And to even think that this team would make it to the final, heck even semi-finals would be nothing but laughable.
It was just the thing everyone was waiting for. A country marred by disbelief, terror and political instability finally found something to celebrate. Everyone was one- the nonchalant Karachi stud was hugging the suave gentleman from Peshawar like two friends met after decades, the old woman from uptown was jumping in joy with her house-help.
It was an Eid the Tarru and Marru of which lasted till the Shawwal moon was sighted.