CRICKET matches between India and Pakistan have always been keenly watched by the citizens of both countries, in view of their traditional rivalry. Considering the emotions that have almost inevitably accompanied such matches, it was an agreeable sight to see the Kolkata home crowd appreciating Pakistan’s performance on Thursday. Domestically, too, cricket is one of the few elements that bind Pakistanis — otherwise so polarised — today. It is against this backdrop, at home and abroad, that the victory against India in Kolkata must be viewed. Pakistan’s latest triumph gave it an unassailable 2-0 margin in a three-match ODI series. The players stood up and delivered under intense pressure to win. What is, indeed, most satisfying is the fact that the two successive victories — the first in Chennai — came riding on the shoulders of the young crop, especially Nasir Jamshed and Junaid Khan. That they led the batting and bowling charge as much in spirit as they did physically is something that would have surely warmed the hearts of all concerned.
The visible improvement in the fielding during the short tour also came as a pleasant surprise. Pakistanis have been known for their rather slapdash efforts in the field, but the tour was indeed a revelation that the team can deliver in this area too — an improvement that must be attributed to the untiring efforts of Coach Dav Whatmore. Meanwhile, the players’ agility showed both professionalism and class. With all the positives in the bag, is everything perfect for the team? Perhaps not yet, although its performance in India shows that Pakistan is on the right track. Pakistan cricket had been in the doghouse for some time on account of the spot-fixing allegations that had earned the team a bad name. Now is the time to play well and with integrity to prove their worth.