Twenty20 World Cup triumph vital for Pakistan’s recovery

KARACHI: Former Pakistan players hailed the side’s Twenty20 World Cup win and hoped the victory can go some way towards unifying the troubled nation and restore its position on the international cricket map.

Pakistan crushed Sri Lanka by eight wickets at Lord’s on Sunday, the final win providing a vital lift to a country that has seen the side starved of action following a series of violent attacks that led visiting nations to cancel tours.

The team went without Test cricket in 2008 and the International Cricket Council (ICC) moved 2011 World Cup matches due to be staged in Pakistan to overseas venues.

Skipper Younus Khan and many of his team-mates spoke of the healing touch the win would provide their countrymen, while former captain Ra­­miz Raja said it offered a ray of hope.

“It is an apt answer to all those people who are not supporting Pakistan cricket at this crucial juncture,” he said. “This victory is more important than our 1992 World Cup triumph.”

Raja was a member of the victorious one-day squad 17 years ago and prai­sed the current team for winning at a time when Pakistan were short of international cricket and suffering from a number of domestic problems.

“Our team have shown that despite the problems we face, cricket will al­­­ways remain alive and kicking in our country and no one can ignore Pa­­­kistan as a top cricket nation,” he said.

Pakistan has been fighting a long battle against militancy and hundreds have been killed in suicide bomb attacks and unrest this year.

In March, militants ambushed the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, leaving six Pakistani policemen and a driver dead and six players wounded.

The attack led to the ICC’s decision to effectively strip Pakistan of its co-hosting rights for the 2011 one-day World Cup although the country’s board are still locked in talks with the sport’s governing body over the issue.

Former captain Javed Miandad ho­­p­­­­­ed the win would help bind the nation.

“Other nations must learn a lesson from us on how to keep sports alive even in adversity and troubled times. Our players deserve credit for bringing joy to the people in these hard times.”

The former batsman said the win and the celebrations showed cricket remained a unifying force in Pakistan.

“That is why we say the ICC and other boards must understand if they don’t support us by playing in Pakistan it will hurt the country a lot.”

Former skipper Aamer Sohail said Pakistan must build on the win to bring back sponsors and revive interest among the youth.

Moin Khan and Rashid Latif, also former skippers, praised Younus for his role in the triumph.

“Younus has played a big role in turning the team into a top outfit. The way we won the final it is a tribute to the fighting spirit of Pakistanis,” Moin said. — Reuters

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