7 sports stories that made headlines across the globe in 2016
2016 was an eventful year for sports in Pakistan. We won, we lost, but we didn't stop.
Our sports stars gave us their best and made us proud: be it fast bowler Mohammad Amir's mesmerising comeback, or Pakistan's first female sharpshooter's performance at the Olympics.
Here's what Pakistan made headlines for in 2016:
1. When PSL revived domestic cricket in Pakistan
Do you remember when jam-packed stadiums in Dubai echoed with chants of Pakistan zindabad? The Pakistan Super League had breathed life into Pakistani cricket once again.
The fervour and excitement of the PSL revived the lost charm of cricket in Pakistan.
It gave us an opportunity to rally in support of our favourite cricket stars and teams and witness quality cricket. But most importantly, the PSL gave room to new stars like Mohammad Nabi and Sharjeel Khan to showcase their skills.
Good start to 2016!
2.When Misbah was our greatest Test captain
Although it took us a while to fall in love with Misbah, when he came into the spotlight as Pakistan's Test captain, everything panned out perfectly.
There wasn't a moment throughout the year that we didn’t want to thank Misbah for his stellar performance as skipper ─ the 42-year-old became the oldest Test centurion at Lord's in 2016 and took Pakistan to the number 1 spot in the ICC's Test rankings for the first time since the current rankings system was introduced in 2003.
As Misbah received the Test mace for the number one cricket team, we saw some celebratory push-ups. The glory didn’t stop there: Misbah made us even more proud after becoming the first Pakistani to play 50 Test matches as captain and bagging the ICC Spirit of Cricket award for motivating his team to play the game with a passion that mirrors his own.
Misbah, thank you!
3. Comebacks, records highlight cricket saga
It wasn't just Misbah, but Pakistan's band of youngsters who stole the show in 2016 as records tumbled for our cricket team.
Critics were skeptical about Mohammad Amir's comeback after the fast bowler was banned following a 2010 spot-fixing scandal.
Spectators were ready with magnifying glasses to nitpick his performance, but the comeback proved to be a crucial weapon for Pakistan in the 2016 Asia Cup.
He also put up a stellar performance in the Test series against England in July ─ which Pakistan won when he took the last wicket.
One Day International Captain Azhar Ali too secured a career-best sixth place on the ICC Test rankings with a remarkable triple century against the West Indies in Dubai.
He also became the first batsman in day-night Test cricket to smash a triple century.
During the team's ongoing Test series against Australia, Azhar also posted the highest score by a Pakistani batsman in Australia with an unbeaten 205.
Another shining moment for Pakistan was when leg-spinner Yasir Shah broke a 123-year-old record for most wickets in 13 Test matches. He became the first Asian and second all-time fastest bowler to take 100 Test wickets in 17 matches.
Keep up the good work!
4. Our first female shooter made a mark at Rio
Minhal might not have won gold, but she grabbed all the respect. The only Pakistani female shooter at the Rio Olympics secured 28th position among 51 shooters in the 10m air rifle event, and, most importantly for Pakistani fans, the 21-year-old shooter outranked her Indian counterparts who secured 34th and 47th ranks.
Ranking above India is a winning point for many of us!
5. When Kabbadi became our favorite sports
No matter which sports you look at, matches between India and Pakistan will always be special. In 2016, we got another chance to brag about our achievements when Pakistan clinched the Asian Beach Games Kabaddi gold, beating arch rivals India in a close finish 30-28.
The Indo-Pak rivalry can make you go gaga for anything!
6. Boxer Waseem became Pakistan's first silver flyweight champion
This year had something for everyone. Pakistan’s only professional boxer, Waseem, also known as ‘Falcon Khan’, made us proud by winning the World Boxing Council silver fly-weight title after defeating the more popular Jether Oliva from the Philippines.
Soon after this fight, the 28-year-old boxer was ranked in the top four by the World Boxing Council.
World title soon, Falcon Khan!
7. Less publicised sports came into the limelight
Unlike traditional sports like cricket and football, Mixed Martial Arts don’t get the attention and support they deserve. Nonetheless, these superheroes never stop upping their game.
MMA fighter Ahmed Mujtaba, aka ‘Wolverine’, and Uloomi Karim shone at the Underground Battle (UGB) Mixed Martial Arts championship this year. The 25-year-old Karim won the Bantamweight (61) Championship Belt at UGB, while Mujataba was successful at Manila as he beat Philippines' Neil Laranow in the first round via a triangle choke.
Hope these heroes get the attention they deserve this year!