Starting with the issue of being denied visa to being asked to leave their hotel at Chandigarh, Faisalabad Wolves’ Champions League T20 2013 campaign was filled with more pain than joy. Despite their horrific performance in the qualifiers, Aayush Puthran wonders whether the side from Pakistan had more gain from the tournament than what their on-field performances showed.
Even before the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013 started, it was billed, by design and branding, as the clash of Twenty20 giants of the world. The billing would have surely unnerved a few qualifying teams of their quality being exposed at a global arena and excited a few others with the opportunity of playing against international quality teams and announcing themselves, like Trinidad and Tobago did a few years back. One doesn’t really know what held true for the outfit from Pakistan — the Faisalabad Wolves — who battled for much more than they were rewarded.
As their pacer Ehsan Adil innocently put it at the end of their campaign on Friday, it was about playing in India and bowling to the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Kumar Sangakkara that he would like to take away from the tournament.
Their miseries, starting from visa issues were endless, and for Misbah-ul-Haq and Saeed Ajmal it was almost a stretching saga from what they have been facing while donning the national colours in the recent past.
A cricket fan would have been in pain watching the agony of the Faisalabad batsmen as they continued to be squared by the initial movement off the pitch in the qualifier matches. Their batting made one wonder whether they had seen better stuff in college and club-level cricket. Any display of brilliance with the bat was limited to their skipper who eventually ended up scoring nearly half of the team’s total run aggregate in the qualifiers.
Fielding looked good in patches, pleasantly surprising at times, but in most parts of the tournament, it was pedestrian and totally unfit for the occasion and the enormity of the stage.
Irrelevant of what mindset they came in with to India, they were exposed of being sub-standard. Yet, amid all their reasons for dejection, one really wonders if they were really disappointed at the end of it all. Was beating Kandurata Maroons, a side boasting of nine international players, a reason less enough for them to be elated? They knew it well that batting was their weak link; it was the bowling that they were counting on to give them success. And they did exceptionally well to defend an ordinary total on a decent batting track.
More importantly, they showed the ability of winning matches out of losing situations, a knack that Pakistani sides have lost in the recent past. They have lost matches that they should have won, but the reverse has not really happened quite often in recent memory. Faisalabad just did that with Kandurata Maroons comfortably placed to win with five overs in hand. Especially, the penultimate over of the match where Adil conceded just two runs must have given the entire unit enough reasons to celebrate from what started off as a disastrous outing.
The team must have been covered by the invisible cloak of hope, well aware of their limitations — probably something they had come into the tournament for and not the trophy really. And if they did, one could say they were successful. With their final encounter ending in a victory, Faisalabad would have been given a slight sense of hope of being able to do better, belonging to the world stage and the reason to lift their bar.
Misbah might have led the team from the front with his bat, but not really with his captaincy that showed more frustration that positivity. It was the youngsters who dug in to savour all that they could and Adil’s statement mentioned above reiterates what the CLT20 2013 meant for youngsters like him.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)