After this weekend, a cruel joke was going around that the Pakistani team performs well only in shampoo and soda commercials. At least the Greenshirts snatched back some semblance of lost stature at Mirpur on Monday. They notched up a convincing first tournament victory against the UAE, but true to character, not without hiccups.
UAE chose to bat first and contrary to expectation, put up a spirited fight against the Pakistani bowling brigade. Mohammad Amir put in a fiery-best bowling spell of 2-6, but the minnows survived, managing an impressive total of 129-6, of which a big contribution came from Shaiman Anwar, who scored 46 off 42 deliveries.
Pakistan got off to a rocky start by losing wickets in the early overs. Their supporters threw up their hands in despair when the team were down 17-3 after the fall of Hafeez (11), Sharjeel (4), and Khurram Manzoor walking off with a duck.
Redemption for Pakistan came in the form of a solid fourth-wicket, 114-run partnership between Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal. Striking fours and sixes whenever they got the chance, running well between the wickets and keeping the scoreboard ticking steadily, the duo pulled their team back on its feet. With Shoaib scoring 63* and Akmal 52*, victory was within reach, and Pakistan ended their innings at 131-3. For his stellar role in reviving his team, Shoaib Malik was deservedly named Man of the Match.
We’re now looking forward to some great performances at the crease for the rest of the tournament, because, in the hearts of Pakistani cricket fans, hope springs eternal.