Pakistan win hearts at T20 World Cup

With remarkable performance from their opening match, Babar Azam-led Pakistan set a series of records and remained invincible till their semi-final qualification. Pakistan skipper Babar Azam remained the top scorer of the tournament with 303 runs that include four half-centuries in six matches. In his debut world cup, he beat Pakistan batting consultant Matthew Hayden’s previous record of highest scores. Babar also drew level with another record held joining by Hayden and Virat Kohli, with his four fifties at a single World Cup equalling the all-time best. Skipper Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan made the highest partnership for the T20 World Cup. The duo scored 152 runs in the partnership while playing against India. Pakistani pacer Hassan Ali deliver is the only player of the event to deliver two maiden overs.

Sitting in a TV studio in the suburbs of Karachi, Wasim Akram, like millions of other Pakistanis, watched in disbelief as Matthew Wade hit three consecutive sixes to take Australia into the final of the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai on Friday night. The shocking defeat ended Pakistan’s unbeaten run in the tournament, leaving them with yet another World Cup heartbreak.

Pakistani fans were quick to express their shock and dismay on social media as many of them unleashed their wrath at misfiring pacer Hasan Ali, partly for his poor bowling spell in the semifinal but primarily for dropping Wade in the crucial 19th over. In the past, the reaction to such defeats would quickly snowball into a storm of abuse together with all sorts of accusations including that of match-fixing. But for a change, Pakistanis handled this defeat with grace.

As a part of a panel of experts doing a TV show on the T20 World Cup, the former Pakistan captain and Test cricket legend Wasim Akram quickly overcame the initial disbelief and acknowledged that the current Pakistan squad left a lasting impression on cricket lovers and managed to conquer the hearts and minds of their fans back home.

“It was heartbreaking to see them lose but at the same time I was proud of the way they went out there and played their hearts out throughout the tournament,” said Wasim, who was Pakistan’s star performer in their historic title-winning triumph in the 1992 World Cup.

Wasim wasn’t the only one proud of Babar Azam and his boys who went to the UAE utterly under-prepared for the T20 World Cup and ended it as one of the most impressive teams ever to feature in the history of the event.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was at the helm of a long list of luminaries, who showered praise on the Pakistan team soon after it bowed out of the World Cup. “To Babar Azam & the team: I know exactly how all of you are feeling right now because I have faced similar disappointments on the cricket field. But you should all be proud of the quality of cricket you played & the humility you showed in your wins. Congratulations Team Australia,” Imran, captain of Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup-winning team, tweeted.

Legendary fast bowler Waqar Younis, who had to quit as Pakistan’s bowling coach just weeks before the T20 World Cup, could have taken this opportunity to settle scores with the country’s cricket authorities. But instead, the former Pakistan captain chose to join the chorus in praise of the national team. “You guys have not Won the World Cup but Won Hearts of every Pakistani. We couldn’t have asked for more. You guys gave your Best. So so proud of you Team Pakistan. Keep your Head High,” Waqar tweeted.


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