'Success is the best revenge': Team Pakistan wins hearts again by neutralising New Zealand

Fans and pundits laud the Green Shirts for overcoming their nerves, take aim at the Kiwis for abandoning Pakistan tour.
Published October 26, 2021

If you thought today was the day an international match involving Pakistan was finally going to be boring — well, the Green Shirts proved you wrong once again.

Babar Azam's men underlined their credentials as early Twenty20 World Cup favourites when they held their nerve to beat New Zealand by five wickets in Sharjah on Tuesday and secure a second straight victory in the tournament.

Chasing a modest 135 for victory after pace bowler Haris Rauf choked out New Zealand with four wickets, Pakistan, on a high after beating arch-rivals India in their Super 12 stage opener, were in trouble at 69-4 but crossed the line in 18.4 overs for a fine start in their bid for a second championship.

Mohammad Rizwan top-scored with 33, while Shoaib Malik (26 not out) and Asif Ali (27 not out) guided them home.

Names from the cricketing world, politicians and the sport's umpteen Pakistani fans took to social media to express their relief at Pakistan having won the game, despite the one scare that brought everyone to the edge of their seats.

"Pakistan giving a small scare for old time's sake. But embracing the consistency of confident, driven and deliberate play," political commentator Fasi Zaka wrote after the Green Shirts' victory.

Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the team on their win, terming their bowling "outstanding".

"A good team will analyse its mistakes when it loses. A great team does a thorough analysis of its game even when it wins," the premier wrote.

Never one to miss an important cricket clash, President Arif Alvi hailed Haris Rauf's bowling and Asif Ali's sixes-laced knock towards the end.

"Outstanding my dear Green Shirts. You continue with your winning spree and took [out] your disappointment of NZ cancelled tour on the ground," he wrote.

Brimming with pride, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam lauded his team's "amazing display of bowling, fielding and batting against a quality side".

"The best part is the entire team chipping in and playing their roles in the victory of Pakistan."

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja also cheered the Green Shirts' "great win".

He said "NZ is a tough opponent and winning a tough game gives you confidence. Head down boys and on to the next one!"

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan's victory today had proven that "success comes with teamwork."

Federal education minister Shafqat Mahmood lauded Asif for his superb match-saving performance.

"What a finish by Asif. Changed the game when it looked tough. Earlier, Haris Rauf bowled beautifully. A great team effort," he commented.

Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said: "Well done again Team Pakistan — some tension-filled moments but you did us proud again!"

Many a Pakistanis, including Mazari, also took aim at the Black Caps for abandoning their tour of Pakistan at the last minute last month.

"Perhaps if you had played us in Pakistan instead of scuttling away you may have had an idea of what you were up against!" the minister tweeted.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif while addressing the New Zealand team wrote: "We assured you off-the-field security ... but on the field … it’s you & the boys in green!"

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari too congratulated the Pakistan team, saying "you make us all proud!"

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed congratulated the entire nation for the win.

Federal minister Asad Umar said today's win was "better than the first match (against India)" in some ways.

"We got into a difficult position, fought back, played deep into the batting line-up and showed character in a tough match. Zabardast!!!"

Senator Dr Shahzad Waseem said New Zealand were "screaming" for security but had no escape.

"Consistency in performance, Pakistan demolishing all the ‘giants’ on the way, marching towards trophy with confidence."

Praising the Pakistan team's "great team effort", Senator Faisal Javed Khan termed their win "an important victory".

In a tongue-in-cheek remark, test pacer Mohammad Amir while referring to the New Zealand team said: "Now who is going to save you?"

Pakistan women's cricket team captain Bismah Maroof lauded Asif Ali's "wonderful striking".

Fans could not get over Pakistan's splendid bowling attack.

Former PCB chairman Najam Sethi said that "New Zealand had it coming."

"When Team Pakistan is firing on all cylinders, it is hard to beat! Congrats!"

One Twitter user said while Pakistan's victory was "delicious", "victory after giving them a taste of hope for a few overs is our true revenge."

Meanwhile, TV host Maria Memon put it succinctly when she tweeted: "Success is the best revenge."

Header image: Pakistan's players celebrate at the end of theTwenty20 World Cup match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on October 26. — AFP