In a thrilling encounter Pakistan cricket team over came a spirited challenge by their arch rivals India to defeat them by one wicket to keep alive their hopes of defending the Asia Cricket Cup 2014. Shahid “Boom Boom” Afridi hit two successive sixes on the third and fourth balls of the last over of the match to take Pakistan cricket team to the finals of the prestigious tournament being held in Bangladesh, erstwhile East Pakistan before the war of independence in 1979.
On a spinning and gripping pitch India batting first were only able to amass 265 runs, some 30-40 runs short, according to the cricket commentators. Pakistani openers laid a solid foundation, and Hafeez coming at one down played one of the best innings of his cricketing career. He made 75 runs and as long as he was in the middle Pakistan had the upper hand in the match. After his dismissal Pakistan suffered a mini middle-order collapse, something which has become a routine affair and needs to be looked into by the managing body of the Pakistan cricket team. In addition, due to some good leg spin bowling by Amit Mishra, the match for the most part seemed to be hung in a delicate balance with both the sides having equal chances of winning.
Due to great spin bowling backed by superb fielding by the Indian cricket team the match, delicately poised, came down to the wire. In the 50th and the last over to be bowled by the Indian spinner Ashwin, Pakistan needed 10 runs off six balls. On the first ball Ashwin bowled Saeed Ajmal while Afridi, Pakistan’s last hope to defeat arch rivals India, looked on helplessly from the non-striker’s end. Junaid Khan, Pakistan pacer faced the second ball and was able to scrape a single. Now the scenario was four balls and nine runs and Afridi, the last recognized batsman facing Ashwin. There was pin-drop silence in the entire stadium as the spectators, with bated breath watched the last rites of the match. Both the teams knew that the difference between victory and defeat was the Pathan, Afridi, famous all over the cricket world as”Boom Boom.” Living up to his legendary image, Afridi posted Ashwin’s third delivery for a six. Now Pakistan cricket team needed three runs in three balls. Afridi hit the next ball for a six also and Pakistan emerged as the deserving victors in this mother of all clashes which would be remembered for a long time in the annals of cricket history, especially in the context of the cricketing rivalry between the two neighbors. Though it was Afridi that hit the winning runs, it was good bowling and great batting by Hafeez that was pivotal in Pakistan cricket team defeating the Indian cricket team, therefore, he was deservedly named as the “man-of-the-match.”
As soon as Afridi hit the second six, the jubilant Pakistan supporters jumped and screamed with joy while the Indian cricket team and the supporters were dumb-struck and some even shed tears. Back home in Pakistan the night air, as it was a day and night match, the night sky was filled with flares and sound of indiscriminate firing of AK-47’s rifles. There are confirmed reports that gunfire resounded in the Taliban controlled North Waziristan and the Indian occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir celebrating this historic win of Pakistan over their arch rivals India.
The intensity of the rivalry between the two cricket mad nations can be well gauged by the fact that now even if Pakistan cricket team lose the finals of the Asia Cricket Cup 2014, Bangladesh, they would be forgiven and given a heroes welcome, because they successfully defeated their arch rivals India.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada