I haven’t watched a live cricket match, in person, since … I don’t know. ’91? Wait, maybe ’96? I have to get this right. Hold on. West Indies in Pakistan, December 1990. I remember Wasim Akram. Look at that second inning stat-line: 9 0 28 5. Glorious. And that Zahid Fazal. Man, I hated that guy. He represented the crushing of all my cricketing dreams. Insofar as a mediocre bat can make it into the national team – I believe I deserved that spot. He just sucked. Anyways. That was the last time I went to Gaddafi Stadium until recently.
In Heathrowup, during my layover, I purchased Wisden’s Cricketer which contained a “10-page special on the past, present and future of world cricket”. Most of the pages were taken over with the dissection of the Twenty20, the death of ODIs and Test Cricket. Someone (I forgot who) said that Test cricket is really anachronistic – since no one has the time to follow 5 days of playing – during the work week – and the dwindling crowds is proof of that. Come on. Test cricket is the fantasy of all cubicle and desk-bound hapless souls who yearn to watch 22 men, clad in virginal white, chasing a bright red ball around a lush green lawn. There is no shortage of dreamers who will continue to watch Test cricket. ODIs on the other hand, cannot die fast enough. And Twenty20 is also repulsive, but I understand where its coming from.
Let it be noted that Pakistan hasn’t played a Test match in 18 months, and that no cricketing team has visited Pakistan for a while. So, this Sri Lanka team’s 3-ODI series is huge for cricket – and for fans. By the time of the Lahore match, the series was tied 1-1 and people were fairly excited about the whole thing.
The ground looked really good. In my expert analysis, the wicket was an excellent batting track with very even bounce. So, I was all set for an awesome match – with high score. On that second count, I was dead right.
Sri Lanka scored 309 runs behind 8 or 9 dropped catches and pretty uninspired bowling throughout. I took the time to note some of the signage.
And do you know what happened next? Pakistan was all-out for 75. That’s right – the biggest margin of defeat in PK’s glorious history.
Turning to happier times, this ground – and that pitch – is where I played the finest inning of my life – 58 n.o. – under a withering pace attack which saw the rest of my team score a collective 70. Oh, I was smokin’.
As usual, more snaps on Flickr.