Sport can often be cruel. It can take a sportsman to the dizzying heights of success, the pinnacle which everyone wants to achieve, but very few can.
And then, just as the sportsman is getting used to the success, the adulation, the fans, one swift move, and it is all gone.
When Abdul Razzaq made his debut 13 years ago, he was the latest from the factory line of Pakistan all-rounders. A hard-hitting batsmen and a handy medium pacer, Razzaq steadily made his way up the pecking order to be one of the major players in the Pakistani setup.
That was then, however.
Since then, Razzaq, plagued with injuries and frequent loss of form, found himself out of favour with the selectors. He tried to forge a comeback, but just somehow always fell short. With patience running thin and age catching up, Razzaq decided to move to the rebel Indian Cricket League to play some regular cricket and prolong a career that wasn’t quite going anywhere.
He won the ICL title with the Hyderabad Heroes and, despite the all too obvious gulf in class between the ICL and international cricket, the selectors gambled on him for the World T20 squad. And what a move it turned out to be. Pakistan skipper Younis Khan admitted after the semifinal win against South Africa that Razzaq was still adjusting to the rigours of international cricket after the breeze that was the ICL.
“He is coming back from the ICL, which does not have the same level as international cricket,” said Younis. “He will take sometime.”
It took Razzaq one game to get it right. On Sunday at Lord’s, Razzaq ripped the heart out of the Sri Lankan batting, claiming three big wickets.
It wasn’t too long ago that he was bowling to first-class cricketers at empty stadiums in Panchkula, trying his best to look interested. Months later, here he was making the biggest stage in the world his own little reunion party.
As he walked back to the long-off boundary, having just removed Mahela Jayawardene, the legion of Pakistani fans giving him a standing ovation, it was hard to miss the smile of relief on Razzaq’s face. Life had come a full circle.