Most may view it as just another defeat to India. For Pakistan though, it broke the camel's back. And what better place for the camel to heal its wounds than in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). After a crippling defeat to India, the Pakistani cricket team will now cease to exist. A little extreme some may say but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) argues that extremism is part of their culture.
Ever since extremists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March, 2009, Pakistan moved their home matches to the UAE. Now seven years later, it appears Pakistan cricket will take another break from Pakistan cricket. The players that form the nucleus of the national squad will be drafted to form a new look UAE cricket team.
Like Pakistan, the UAE cricket team has faced damning defeats in the Asia Cup that is currently underway. While the UAE has had to qualify for the tournament, many in Pakistan believe their team should be disqualified. Pakistan cricket veteran and UAE coach, Aaqib Javed, said it was impossible to coach the Pakistan cricket team but as the UAE, at least, some of the Pakistani players may reap the benefits of coaching. He continued somewhat sadly, "Poor Bob Woolmer, may god bless his soul, but imagine to die coaching a team, that too in a World Cup and without even losing to India. That is the price you pay..."
It started eerily for Pakistan, first when Shahid Afridi lost the toss to MS Dhoni on a very "English" wicket. In a way, that's when Pakistan first lost the match. By half time, Pakistan's batsmen lost the match again. By full time, they lost it for the third time in a few hours. In the post-match presentation ceremony, after Virat Kohli and Dhoni spoke, they lost it for the fourth time. Then Ravi Shastri spoke. Knockout.
It's understandable, the Pakistani team is feeling very lost. Though the decision to play as the UAE team has been in the pipeline for quite some time now, it has continued to gain momentum with every subsequent defeat to India in World Cups.
And while this is only a defeat in the Asia Cup, PCB Chairman, Shahryar Khan, hopes that Pakistani cricketers will upset India in the World T20. When reminded that the UAE was not part of the World T20, he said he would speak to his buddy in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) about that. "We'll meet in Dubai to discuss that," he continued, to nobody's interest.
Avid cricket fans in Karachi and Lahore are now destroying TV sets faster than they can be imported. And while this means there's a constant demand for TVs to destroy after every India match, the PCB feels enough is enough.
"The TV economy is booming but other economies, not so. With the constant destruction of TVs, these crazy fans are only buying TVs, neglecting other important household items like washing machines and refrigerators. We should count our blessings that India and Pakistan only play each other in these one-off matches. If they had full-fledged series played in India, can you imagine what the loss in a Test match would have meant, considering that our team continues to lose session after session to the far superior Indians," said a somewhat tired Mr Khan, even as he refused to let go of Kohli's hand.
There is talk in some quarters that Mohammad Amir, the only bright spot from Saturday's defeat to India, may not join the UAE team. It is believed, even after his five-year exile, he has far superior cricketing skills than his peers. Amir will be given five years along with Misbah-ul-Haq to put together a crack team that will be worthy of calling itself the Pakistan cricket team.
With an England series in the offing, Amir appeared pensive when he said, "Don't want to go there, very bad people making very good offers there."
Elsewhere, Afridi has retired from the UAE cricket team but will continue to play in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
(However plausible this might sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)
First published here