Harold Pinter once remarked, “The mistake they make is to try and determine and quantify, with the greatest instruments, the source of the wound. Although he wasn’t (at the time) discussing cricket, as I watch Pakistan compete in this T20 World Cup,” his comments would still come to mind.
In a Twenty20 encounter in Karachi around six weeks ago, they crushed England by ten wickets. After that evening’s game, there was a jubilant, almost delirious, atmosphere in the stadium.
The atmosphere altered the following day when England defeated them by a lopsided 63 runs in a game that was decided 20 minutes into the second innings. It turned bitter and impatient.
Later that evening, Saqlain Mushtaq, the coach of Pakistan, sat down in a chair for his post-game press conference with the eager media stretched out in front of him, ready to grill him on the what-ifs, why-not, and what-about of the setback.
For about ten minutes in a row, Mushtaq spoke calmly and in an uninterrupted monologue as he began to speak more and more. Most of the English reporters in the room were gazing at each other with raised eyebrows, wondering precisely what he was talking about, while others were just bewildered.
Some journalists in the room were grinning, some were snickering, and some were simply perplexed.
Some of it was visible in Mushtaq’s body language, but the remainder required translation. Afterward, the group’s sole fluent Urdu speaker realized he couldn’t even begin to explain it.
Mushtaq claimed that it was all connected to fate, but that accurate translation would take several listens.
The subsequent version of the statement read, “Day and night, summer and winter, showers, they are all-natural. Sport is likewise the same in that way. There will always be wins and defeats. It is something we must accept, and we do. What else can we do given that it is a natural rule and is not within our power? The intent is all we can control; the rest is we can only pray”
That was a departure from the customary comments, “Well, the boys are disappointed, but we haven’t become a bad side overnight.”
In the media, Mushtaq received some complimentary jabs; however, the head coach’s claim that it was simply kismet may have been overstated. However, he was able to make it work.
For the first time since 2009, six weeks later, his Pakistani side is playing in the World T20 championship final. They have stumbled and fallen throughout the competition; they lost a game against India that depended on a no-ball call in the final over.
Furthermore they lost another game against Zimbabwe when they managed to fall two runs short of the lowest total that has been successfully defended thus far.
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