“Pakistan lost the Test series to Australia” would be one blunt way to look at things. Another, more positive, or shall I say masbat, way of looking at the same equation would be: “The victory was not to be had for the Men in Green,” or “it just wasn’t their day(s),” or “there is no shame in losing to the mighty Australians.”
In the same spirit, we go looking for some desperate positives:
1- The gracious hosts
If you think about it, the Holy Grail for Pakistan cricket this millennium hasn’t been about winning any World Cups or tournaments. It has been about luring first world teams composed of light skinned players to Pakistan.
Now just imagine how enticing the tour of Pakistan would become for New Zealand and England, who might want to pick up an easy away win or two against gracious hosts waiting for them in Pakistan. This, after all, is a team that shows absolutely no intention to win. For top quality visitors, the default result on offer in Pakistan would be a drawn series and if they try a little bit, their hosts would happily melt.
The road to World Test Championship glory would always have a pleasant pit stop awaiting them in Pakistan. For the hosts, the possibilities of ‘image’ enhancement could be plenty. It's a win-win situation really. Or in Pakistan's case, a win-draw situation.
2- Flattering the flatness
Talking of roads, here is a more literal one. The thoroughfares in Sindh in general and Karachi in particular are littered with potholes — some large enough to qualify as craters.
This is where the PCB’s groundstaff’s talents could be better used.
After what we’ve seen in this Test series, it’s suffice to say the cricket board’s pitch curators can flatten any surface with such efficiency that it offers neither spin nor seam to anyone.
Perhaps, the National Highway Authority should consider borrowing them to lay asphalt around the country.
3-Fans finally allowed to criticise?
For quite some time, there has been an unwritten, unsaid embargo imposed by the ‘woke’ Twitter crowd on speaking against national players. The myriad PSL officials, media managers and flat out fanboys aka the tum-jeeto-ya-haro brigade has often implied or said publicly how it is uncool to criticise our ‘national treasures’ aka their franchise assets.
After seeing numerous flat batting display, which weren't quite a spur-of-the-moment incident like a certain dropped catch, but were seen, felt and endured like slow poison over five testing days of Tests, perhaps the game's opinion makers would grant the gen pop their permission to call spade a spade.
To get you started, here is a full toss: Hasan Ali picked up two wickets in as many Tests, including none in the final Test.
4- World's most hard-to-please fans
Over the course of the series, Pakistan fans showed that they are the hardest to impress in the world as even the visit of the mighty Australians was unable to draw them out from their drawing rooms and into the stadiums.
The Aussies could have easily duped their hosts by withholding most of their A-list talent, some of whom are missing the Indian Premier League and the money bags that come with it to toil in the Pakistani heat. Cricket Australia held nothing back and sent as strong a roster as possible but Pakistan's hard-to-please fans still couldn't be bothered. Granted that swapping the comfort of living room couches for topless chairs under the sun isn't easy but then the chance to watch Australia in Pakistan comes after years — or on this case, after every 24 years.
The 'cricket crazy' nation could not even fill half of the 18,000-capacity stadium in Rawalpindi, 27,000 in Lahore and 34,000 in Karachi as global superstars such as David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc showcased their talent surrounded by empty chairs.
It goes to demonstrate how incredibly high the standards are of Pakistan fans. Slam Dunk Dwyane Wade will be proud.
The writer is a member of staff.