A century was scored at the Adelaide Oval in Australia but fans in lime green jerseys celebrated all over the world. It was the perfect riposte; justice was finally delivered.
There were a few individuals who were also left with the ignominy of eating their own words as Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed punched the air and raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd after scoring his maiden ODI ton in a must-win game against Ireland on Sunday. Largely, though, there was joy. It even reached a small corner of Uttar Pradesh, India, where one man was busy distributing sweets and frantically answering phone calls.
Mehboob Hasan of Etawah, UP, is Sarfraz’s uncle and when he’s not got the blue jersey on, he’s proudly following the exploits of his nephew.
Hasan was as perplexed as the majority of Pakistani fans when Sarfraz was kept on the sidelines for the first four World Cup matches and in the search for an answer called up his sister Akila Banu in Karachi.
“She told me to pray for Sarfraz and asked me to visit Khwajasahab’s dargah in Ajmer,” Indian Express quoted Hasan as saying.
He kept his promise and will revisit the shrine once again after the World Cup seeing the Pakistani wicketkeeper's great success.
“Mannat jo maangi hai, puri karni parhegi (I will visit the shrine again since I have asked for a blessing),” he said.
The love between the mamu and nephew is strong, despite the two only having met twice — once when Sarfraz was four and the second a year ago.
Hasan recalls how Sarfraz was hard to handle even as a child.
“I would take him and my sister for shopping. This boy was barely five years old; he would jump and sit on the counter.”
“Once, we decide to get a quick meal from a street food cart. Sarfraz had started eating even before I could ask of the cost.”
“Darta nahi tha kabhi (He was never afraid of anything).”
His fearlessness was evident when he played his first match of the World Cup against a rampant South African side. When the match was over Sarfraz had scored a run-a-ball 49 as an opener before taking a record-equalling six catches behind the stumps to win the man-of-the-match award. After his match-winning performance against the Proteas, Sarfraz scored a century against Ireland to take Pakistan into the quarter-finals.
“Everybody here knows that Sarfraz is my nephew, so they keep calling,” Hasan said.
Pakistan will take on Australia in their knockout match while India take on Bangladesh.
Hasan's love for his nephew will truly be tested should Pakistan and India both win to set up a semi-final date.