Documentary: When Pakistan chanted ‘Zimbabwe’

“Cricket is a unifying force, it is the one force that everyone looks to for comfort, for enjoyment.”
Published July 17, 2015

“Cricket is a passion in Pakistan. It affects everyone. It's a great unifying force because it connects young and old, north and south, east and west; everyone is involved in cricket. It is the one force that everyone looks to for comfort, for enjoyment,” says Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan.

A documentary by PCB on Zimbabwe's historic tour to Pakistan in May 2015.

With top nations refusing to visit through fears of militant attacks, it had been a long time in the wilderness for the cricket-mad country and its players, fans and administrators.

Six years on after the attack on the Sri Lankan team and under high security involving 3,000 police and blanket aerial surveillance, Zimbabwe became the first team to tour Pakistan to end its international cricket isolation in May 2015.

For players like Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, it was the first time to represent Pakistan at home, in front of their own people.

“The last six years were unbearable,” were the words of Pakistan's Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq. “Our grounds were left deserted, fans were deprived and a new generation of players lost a chance of playing on home conditions before their own people.”

Where Alistair Campbell, managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket, expressed satisfaction over a successful visit to Pakistan and hinted that his country would “hopefully come back again to play in Pakistan's other cities as well”, Zimbabwe Cricket Chairman Wilson Manase declared themselves “vindicated” on his team's safe return to Harare.

“We went to Pakistan, we are back and we are safe ... Nothing happened to say our lives were threatened. Our team was never in any danger. We are vindicated.”

Meanwhile, Osman Samiuddin, author of “The Unquiet Ones: A history of Pakistan Cricket”, in his column for ESPNcricinfo, wrote: “It took one attack to stop international cricket in Pakistan, but it will take a few attack-free tours to bring it back fully.”