LEEDS: APS terror attack survivor Waleed (C) meets his childhood heroes Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Rameez Raja in the Headingley media centre as former England paceman and now broadcaster Jonathan Agnew (R) looks on.—photo by Qamar Ahmed
LEEDS: APS terror attack survivor Waleed (C) meets his childhood heroes Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Rameez Raja in the Headingley media centre as former England paceman and now broadcaster Jonathan Agnew (R) looks on.—photo by Qamar Ahmed

I HAVE no idea if rain that prevented any play for the first session and a bit after lunch in the second Test has come as a blessing for Pakistan or for England.

Overnight incessant rain which continued till mid-day yesterday may have done some favour to Pakistan for the fact that the behaviour of the pitch, which had dried up on the first afternoon and was not helping the seamers, started to produce some movement and swing.

And although england started positively with a flurry of boundaries, the overcast conditions did make life difficult for the hosts who lost captain Joe Root to a gem of a ball from Mohammad Amir for 45 just when he looked set for a big innings.

At the time of writing this piece, England were looking a bit shaky as the overcase conditions had started helping Mohammad Abbas and Amir.

Whatever the situation, the lost hours in the day’s play will no doubt have the bearing on the outcome of this crucial Test for both Pakistan and England.

Rain-interruptions do disturb the rhythm whether you bowl or bat because it becomes difficult to keep up the concentration level. And in game of cricket concentration is one vital ingredient indeed.

But as the clouds hovered above the playing field, looking quite threatening, the one bright light that emerged off the field was the visit of an APS School Peshawar’s terror attack victim, the 17-year-old Waleed Khan, who came down to Headingley to meet his childhood idols Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Ramiz Raja.

Waleed was only 14 when the ghastly terror attack took place in Peshawar in 2014 in which 128 children were killed and 150 were injured.

Waleed, who had challenged one of the terrorists, was shot eight times on his face and body and yet he miraculously managed to survive. The brave young boy is under treatment in Birmingham these days and already a member of British Youth Parliament.

A cricket fanatic Waleed was brought to Headingley for a BBC interview and the former England fast bowler Jonathan Agnew, who is now a famous radio commentator, brought the youngster into the press box to meet his heroes Wasim, Waqar and Ramiz and tell them about his horrifying confrontation with the terrorists at his school in Peshawar.

“I am glad to be alive by the grace of God and see my country’s cricket team and meet you - my cricketing heroes,” he told the legendary fast bowlers.

It was a very moving experience to listen to this brave young Pathan and the ordeal he faced in 2014.

“Cricket is my favourite game and I wish there is some play today,” Waleed said.

Lucky for him, and the patiently waiting crowd, that the rian stopped and play resumed midway through the second session.

A lot depends though on how quickly the Pakistan bowlers are able to dismiss England or restrict them to a moderate lead.

In a Test match any team which fails to do well in the first innings, however, is always in danger of a loss and Pakistan’s meager total of 174 is bound to hurt them.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2018

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