The fun-fest T20I series between Pakistan and England unexpectedly ended in a one-sided contest on Sunday but it ensured an unstoppable craze and enthusiasm for later this year when the two sides will meet in Test cricket on Pakistani soil.
As PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said, “I thought the interest of fans will fade away with time as the series is seven matches long, but credit goes to the teams for keeping fans engaged till the last match”.
Even though it wasn’t expected, the tickets for the matches sold out in Karachi and then Lahore even on weekdays, proving the authenticity of cricket love in the country. And once in the stadium, cricket fans displayed their enthusiasm for the game and lifted the spirits of the players by holding creative placards and rooting for them.
On Sunday, fans in Lahore lined up outside of the stadium in great numbers hours before the match just to catch a glimpse of the series decider.
Harry Brook, who represented Lahore Qalandars in PSL, called Pakistan his ‘second home’. So, his homies came to support him instead of their home team.
Pakistan’s yet another middle-order failure might have haunted the fans before the mega T20 World Cup but their applause went for the winning side when they lifted the series trophy in a partially empty stadium because emotional fans couldn’t really stay there due to their team’s poor performance.
But the great thing about Pakistan cricket fans is that they end up owning their players once the frustration of defeat dissipates. That’s why Pakistan fans keep the song ‘Tum Jeeto Ya Haaro‘ on their playlists while watching every match.
Moreover, the way Khushdil Shah received support against the crowd’s rants after the seventh T20I reflects the soft corner people have for cricketers in their hearts.
England got their hands on the glittering trophy and marked their first T20I series win since July 2021. The victory meant a lot for the English team, which was without their regular skipper Jos Buttler and main players, including Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, and Ben Stokes.
On the other hand, during the series, English journalists’ strolls around the traditional cricket grounds also gained massive attention worldwide. Articles about the famous Karachi Gymkhana and Lahore’s Bagh-e-Jinnah let the world know about how cricket evolved in Pakistan despite hosting no competitive international cricket for over 10 years.
English journalists wrote and praised the rich cricket history which will pave the way for endless cricket action in this part of South Asia.
As always, security arrangements not only surprised the guests but also left them a bit frustrated due to the isolation, as highlighted by the English media. The presidential security didn’t allow players to roam about freely but this is the least authorities could do to make the tour successful.
Fans wanted to see and interact with the likes of Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Alex Hales, and other English players. Had the English players been taken to a local mall or a cricket ground, it would have been a great experience for fans.
Whether the English side will be able to interact with fans more freely once they return to Pakistan in December is not clear yet, as such decisions depend on a variety of factors.
Nonetheless, fans are hopeful to see team England visiting the public spaces in Pakistan and mingling with people more freely during their next visit.