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Pakistan in do-or-die vs South Africa: Emotional fans boost demoralised PAK

Pakistan cricket team had a little over two days to recover -- from Sunday, when they lost to Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team at Edbaston, to the match against South Africa cricket team in the same venue. Sarfraz Ahmed and Co. seem to have shaken off the blues, in typical Pakistani style that too.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 07, 2017 14:04 IST
Leslie Xavier
Leslie Xavier
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy,Pakistan cricket team
Pakistan cricket fans during the ICC Champions Trophy match against Indian cricket team at Edgbaston, in Birmingham. The city has a sizable Pakistani population which is expected to come out again in huge numbers to support their team in the crucial match against South Africa cricket team on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Pakistan cricket team, or any team for that matter, would find it tough to make a comeback from the morale-busting loss they suffered against Indian cricket team in the ICC Champions Trophy opener.

While the huge margin of loss -- that too against India -- is bad in itself, the disastrous showing in all departments during the match would be hurting Pakistan more. From poor fielding and bad execution with the bat and ball, to the timid, almost submissive approach and game-plan in the match, not to mention the loss of strike bowler Wahab Riaz to injury -- skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and coach Mickey Arthur would have had a lot to ponder about and prepare ahead of the crucial match against South Africa cricket team at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

They had a little over two days to recover -- from Sunday, when they lost to Virat Kohli and Co at Edbaston, to the match against the Proteas at the same venue. And they seem to have shaken off the blues, in typical Pakistani style that too.

Though this Pakistan team is not in the same league as the ones of yore, they still possess something that the old world-beating sides from the country did -- passion, fuelled by the unwavering, yet demanding, support the team receives from its fans.

Mohammad Hafeez, this Pakistan side’s most senior player, puts it best, when he talks about how cricketers are worshipped as heroes in the country and the players, in return, earn respect by going out there and winning it for the fans.

“It’s all about the fans,” says Hafeez in a video published by the ICC. “They always follow you and want you to do well, always want your team to win the game. It’s always feels nice to fulfil their expectations as a player and as a team. I always work hard for that. I hope, we, as a team, will try our level best to give the fans something to enjoy.

“I believe it’s the love of the people (that drives us),” adds the seasoned off-spinner. “The fans are very passionate about cricket. And no matter who represents the game in Pakistan, they become a hero. And I belive if I can fulfil those expectation, what they demand and want from me and the team for the nation, I can become a hero too.”

Azhar Ali echoes Hafeez’ words when he says that though “Pakistani fans are hard to please” once the team starts doing well, the feeling of seeing them happy is the best in the world.

“Cricket is one of the things which brings a lot of happiness in the country,” adds the top-order batsman. “There is a lot of expectation from us. We will like to give back as much as we can to the fans. Recent past has not been good and we would like to do well in this tournament and make them happy.”

It is clear that the Pakistan players are a motivated bunch and are deriving strength from their passionate following. With a big disappointed behind them, and a strong will to perform, Pakistan could get their tournament back on track on Wednesday, as they seek joy for their fans.

First Published: Jun 07, 2017 13:48 IST