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Coming from the year of Misery to the year of blessings, it feels great; however, the journey leading to the rise of Pakistan cricket was very long, tiring, and painful for Pakistan cricket. It might seem like an ordinary story from the cover of it, but this journey of seven years was not easy for anyone.
The Dark Year of 2010
Starting with the time when Pakistan Cricket was hit over and over again. The Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan team took away international cricket from Pakistan for almost a decade.
The match-fixing scandal involving the three most talented and important members of the Pakistan cricket team brought a cloud of shame and embarrassment for the cricket board, cricket fans, and the entire nation. Fans were broke, cricketers were disappointed and the world was looking down upon the entire nation. Trust me, the situation was more messed up than it seems now.
The Struggle & Rebuild
The hardships of the Pakistan cricket team continued. From changing multiple captains in a few months to the absence of international cricket on home soil. PCB took a wise decision in 2010 by announcing a player as the captain of the Pakistan Test team who was not part of the original team. Who would have imagined, the same person would become the most successful test captain of Pakistan.
Pakistan was lucky to have a pool of hardworking, determined, and disciplined players under the leadership of Misbah ul Haq who not just rebuilt the broken team but also yielded victories on a neutral venue. It will be very unfair to miss out on the contributions of Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan who played a huge role along with Misbah ul Haq to bring cricket back on track. The team was united and disciplined like never before.
The Rough Patch
Things were not completely going in the right direction in the limited-overs formats. Pakistan was struggling in one-day cricket after the 2011 world cup. Pakistan slipped from No.6 to No.9 in ODI Cricket, after the retirement of Misbah and Afridi in ODIs. At one stage Pakistan was hardly qualifying for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. The center of discussion back in late 2015 was whether Pakistan cricket is dying like the national sport hockey? However, the best was yet to come.
The Rise of Pakistan Cricket
The Pakistan Cricket team under the captaincy of Misbah ul Haq went to England for 4 match test series. They drew the series in England after almost 2 decades and climbed to the top of ICC Test Rankings after which Pakistan was crowned with the ICC Test Mace for the first time.
In less than 12 months, Pakistan traveled to the West Indies and won the first-ever test series in the West Indies which holds great importance because the two pillars of Pakistan Cricket retired with a memorable farewell. It was a highly emotional moment for the entire cricket fraternity, not just two greats were retiring with dignity but also because these two soldiers of Pakistan cricket fought and rebuilt the team in the most difficult times.
The Blessed Year of 2017
After a historical test match ending on the last ball of the second last over of the third session of day 5 of the final test in West Indies, Pakistan traveled to England for the all-important Champions Trophy 2017. Pakistan entered the tournament with the worst ranking and even lost the opening match against arch-rivals India.
The unpredictable Pakistan team never looked back after the shameful defeat to India in the first game and ended up winning the Champions Trophy. The team full of youngsters became heroes and superstars of Pakistan Cricket, the players who were unknown to the Pakistani general audience became stars overnight.
Coming to the most important and my favorite moment of the year: World XI tour of Pakistan. It was a very special moment as a proper team full of stars agreed to visit Pakistan for a 5-day trip involving 3 T20Is. These matches held great importance in the cricket world and proved to be a blessing for Pakistan Cricket.
The series went exceptionally well and attracted a large crowd and was followed by millions all over the globe. All the players who came to Pakistan were satisfied with the arrangements and security in Pakistan and wished to come back soon.
What makes 2017 an unforgettable year?
As a cricket fan, I want this exact day to stop forever because I don’t want this golden year to go away. I don’t want to forget the win against India in the Champions Trophy 2017 Final. I don’t want the perfect send-off of Misbah and Younis to fade off so quickly and finally, I don’t want the World XI to leave Pakistan so soon.
All these events took place in 6 months which is something one can dream of. Misbah and Afridi smiled while receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of Lahore, these moments are hard to leave behind.
At this stage of time, I have a glorious memory of the Pakistan Cricket in 2017 with the hope that things will improve further. However, this hope is not guaranteed in the future, anything can happen in the coming days. Today, we all know the Sri Lankan team will visit Pakistan for a T20I, and then West Indian Team will tour Pakistan for 3 T20I series in November 2017.
PCB also assured that 8 matches of Pakistan Super League 2018 will take place in Pakistan. There are also expectations from Cricket South Africa that they will send their team to Pakistan for an international series next year. Well, no one knows about tomorrow, it can be better than today or can be worse than today. I can’t handle this uncertainty; hence, I want this time to stop and the dream to continue.