Sri Lanka and Pakistan give new meaning to the words

Pakistan completely demolished the England team and the aura of invincibility that they had attained after they had won the Ashes against Australia and whitewashed India © Getty Images


By Dhananjay Devasper


Nothing brings the cricket connoisseurs together, than games where inspired fightbacks defy conventional cricketing wisdom. And what is more inspiring is when it’s for a lost cause. The stakes and respect earned is that much higher. In the past few weeks, there have been two instances of teams from the subcontinent raising the bar of the spirit in which cricket is played, thereby giving new meaning to the words “Playing for Pride”.


The first of two instances came in the One-Day series between Sri Lanka and South Africa. With the series in the bag for South Africa, the Sri Lankans were staring at a whitewash. And when South Africa set a target of 300 to chase down in the fourth ODI, the writing seemed to be on the wall. Any lesser team would have succumbed to the pressure, but sterling knocks from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal combined with some outstanding power hitting from Thissara Perera ensured that they chased down this total with ease.


The final match in the series saw another high scoring battle. With 313 to chase down, it was Kumar Sangakkara who led the attack from the front and Sachitra Senanayake who brought back memories of Javed Miandad, when he hit a six to get the winning runs and ensure Sri Lanka emerged victorious. For a team filled with relatively new faces, it would have served as a huge morale booster and self belief would be high when they face off against Australia and India in the tri-series.


The second instance came about in the ongoing Test series where the No.1 Test team England, squared off against Pakistan. Their previous series was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Match-fixing, spot-fixing and convictions of Pakistani cricketers had marred the game and Pakistan cricket. There couldn’t have been a better platform to seek redemption and restore pride. And restore pride they did and that too, in style. With Mohsin Khan as the new coach and Misbah-ul Haq as the captain, the unit played as one, to completely demolish the England team and the aura of invincibility that they had attained after they had won the Ashes against Australia and whitewashed India.


Granted that the dust bowls of the United Arab Emirates are more conducive to spin bowling, but the way England capitulated to defeat, will now raise a question on their superiority, especially in the testing subcontinent. Additionally, the fighting spirit of this Pakistan team was also on display. The second Test was one that tested the character of their bowling, when they had to defend 145 runs. The spinners ran through the England line-up to effect a humiliating defeat, by bowling them out for a paltry 72, thereby sealing the series for Pakistan.


In both cases there were veteran cricketers and young turks making it count when it mattered. It’s a matter of pride when you play for your country, and even if the series is a lost cause, you never give in, as Sri Lanka showed. Or if you seek redemption, there is no sweeter sound than one of success, like the Pakistan team has proved. It augurs well for the game of cricket and the competitive nature of the sport


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(Dhananjay Devasper is an “IT guy” by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)