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Pakistan fans in UAE hope win will open doors

International teams haven’t travelled to country since 2009 attacks

Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News
Pakistan expats celebrating victory of ICC Champion Trophy played between Pakistan and India at Oval in Bur Dubai.
Gulf News

Dubai: Pakistan fans in the UAE are hoping that their cricket team’s 180-run win over India in the ICC Champions Trophy final in London on Sunday can be a catalyst for cricketing change in the country.

With the exception of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in March and Zimbabwe’s visit in 2015, international cricket hasn’t been played in Pakistan since an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.

Now, however, the UAE-based fans are hoping cricket can return home after the exploits of their team in England.

“This is an opening,” said Adeel Khan, 37, an IT specialist from Al Nahda. “It may not happen quickly or in the near future, but it has definitely opened the floodgates.

“Teams may have been reluctant to come and play us in the past but now we are the champions everyone will want to come and play us.

“That would be the ultimate goal and achievement to see cricket back in Pakistan because it would bring normality back to the country and signal an end to the bad days and show we are heading in the right direction.”

Sajid Bashir, 39, a pharmaceutical marketing executive from Sharjah, agreed: “I can’t remember a victory by such a margin, especially against India, in the past nine years.

“We’ve had a difficult time beating India of late because of the situation but we took all our revenge from the past 10 years out in one match.

“Given the situation the whole world will be amazed to see we are still producing good cricketers and I see a much brighter future with this new crop of players.”

Mazhar Sharif, 34, a designer from Ajman, added: “This win is remarkable given the problems we’ve been facing over the past 10 years. Cricket there has been declining in every aspect, so to win this is a great achievement.

“There obviously are, or were, issues in Pakistan but we’ve since hosted Zimbabwe and the PSL final, so I don’t think it’s as bad as it once was. We travelled to play in Sri Lanka when they had security issues, so we think teams should travel to us too. I think the situation is totally different now.”

All three believed Pakistan’s bowling was their strength but felt the batting was the surprise element, with India captain Virat Kohli’s decision to field first, after winning the toss, also a contributing factor to the victory.

“We were surprised by this decision given Pakistan is traditionally not good at chasing, but I think the way we chased (so well) in the last two games against England and Sri Lanka maybe persuaded Kohli to do that,” said Khan.

Sharif added: “Our bowling was always very strong, but it was our batting that came together at the right time and that’s why we won.”

“Some of us expected to edge a win but not by that margin,” said Bashir.

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