You can tell how you started supporting a team, supported it in every thick and thin and how hard – and maybe painful – it was. In reply to this, a Pakistani fan would say, “That’s cute.”
Supporting a team is never easy when it is going through a tough time or an average one. But with Pakistan comes the secret ingredient of being Pakistan, which can either make you want to throw up, or moan in the admiration of its taste with eyes closed.
Pakistan has been going through a horrendous period, losing 10 of their last 10 completed ODIs. The experiment of checking the bench strength against Australia failed miserably and the England series wasn’t any better either. Moreover, the squad dilemma struck as the players didn’t perform, after which Amir, who didn’t play vs England due to a disease, and Wahab Riaz, who hadn’t played an ODI for 2 years, were included in the squad to fulfill the experience requirements selectors find necessary at the last moment.
In this winless period, it was Pakistan’s bowling – as awful as it might sound – which looked toothless. The bowlers failed to pick up wickets especially in the first powerplay. All of a sudden, Hassan Ali started spewing half-volleys like he had no other option, bowlers forgot what a yorker was, fielding time-travelled a decade backward, and that Junoon we often talk about disappeared like the deliveries they pitched up to Jos Buttler.
But there is still hope in a Pakistani fan’s mind, an optimistic one that Pakistan can do well. They can channel a Pakistan of the higher order where the interpretation of it becomes meaningless. The infatuation in the heart spreads like a fragrance and embodies the fans. It fades away for moments and turns the Pakistani fan into a critic that can verbally smash them better than those doing it on air. But the love inside doesn’t go away. It stays. It follows. It overcomes. It faces another meltdown. It repeats.
The World Cup has virtually begun and the practice matches have showed us glimpses that it won’t be easy-peasy in any way possible. The first match is against a team who crossed 400 against New Zealand like a walk in the park. With the batting slightly improved, it will be a real test for the Pakistani bowlers to step up and put forward a gutsy performance in this tournament.
For all the fans, it can be challenging to see how Pakistan’s bowling fares, how openers play, how middle order reacts, how the finishing goes. After all, it’s the obsessive affection that binds them with Pakistan team and other things are rendered meaningless. So, Pakistan fans, fasten your belts for this rollercoaster ride, get ready for the emotions and don’t be afraid of betrayals because you have to overcome these things to see how strong your love – and of course mental strength – is. At the end, you don’t know what you’ll be faced with.
“Oppress me again my love, the life persists
The spark of love, we have, badly insists”