Pakistan vs South Africa: A Fan’s Diary

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Your alarm goes off at 6 o’clock in the morning on a normal day. You press the snooze button, think “an extra five minutes won’t hurt” and then go back to sleep, with this cycle repeating until you inevitably end up dragging yourself out of bed, half eyes shut, and get ready for the day ahead. However, this was not any normal day. This was me going to see my beloved Pakistan, playing a World Cup game at the home of cricket. It really can’t get much more exciting than this. As I jumped on the train towards St John’s Wood, my heart started beating just a little bit faster, and the excitement was kicking in with every minute that passed.

 

Why Pakistan vs South Africa?

Funnily enough, I didn’t originally have tickets for this game, only for the Pakistan vs New Zealand game with my family. Remarkably, only after the thrashing by India, did I consider also going to this game. While many Pakistan fans were losing motivation to follow our team after our pathetic display against our arch-rivals, the thought of my team being in London, not too far from where I live, really got me in the mood to go to this match. I knew that the chances of actually getting tickets to this match would were slim, I had no luck getting any from the ICC website, but I refused to give up on this so easily. Days later, after scouring every social media platform known to man, I managed to find someone selling a ticket at face value. After a few messages with him, I transferred him the money, and he sent me the e-ticket, and my dream would become reality!

 

Standout performer of the day

This is a no-brainer, really. After a good start with the bat, we started to slow down and I was starting to get visibly anxious that we wouldn’t make a good score. I really didn’t want the New Zealand game to be a dead rubber, as me and my family have been looking forward to that since our application was successful last year, but I felt like Pakistan had a chance of a collapse. But Haris Sohail, replacing the out of sorts Shoaib Malik, played with intent from ball 1, smacking 4’s and 6’s for fun, as Lords turned into Lahore, to lift Pakistan to a very competitive total. The chanting and atmosphere during his innings was out of this world, and not something I will be forgetting anytime soon. It is a shame he fell just short of a century, as this was one of the most breath-taking innings from a Pakistani batsman in recent times.

 

The WOW moments

The atmosphere was brilliant from start to finish, with Pakistani fans outnumbering fans of South Africa, but there were a couple of moments that stood out. When Imran Tahir took a good ‘catch’ to remove Fakhar Zaman, there was disappointment in the air; Zaman is no doubt one of those players you would pay money to see, and his innings up to then was perfect. However, there was some doubt whether the catch was clean, and there were loud cheers when the decision was reviewed, and when the soft signal was not out. Upon seeing the replay, it looked like there was a good case for Zaman’s innings to be given a lifeline, and there was huge suspense when the 3rd umpire had said he had made his decision – all eyes were on the big screen. When the “not out” loaded, there was a deafening cheer all around the ground – Zaman had a second chance, and Imran Tahir’s madman celebrations were short-lived.

Another excellent moment came in the chase. When South Africa lost Quinton De Kock and Aiden Markram in quick succession, the all-round feeling between Pakistan fans was that the win was confirmed, and the game was just starting to fizzle out. Perhaps the Pakistan fielders felt the same, as their fielding started to deteriorate rapidly. Rassie van der Russen and David Miller both offered some resistance, but it was never going to change the game. Shaheen Shah dismissed David Miller, and there is no better sight in cricket for a fast bowler than seeing the stumps splattered all over the ground, and as he trudged off slowly, with him went any feint hopes South Africa had, and by that point, an already jubilant Pakistan crowd got even louder. 

 

What would I have changed?

Honestly speaking, not a lot. This day was more or less perfect, a Pakistan win, great atmosphere and no issues involved in the journey to Lord’s. I did go by myself however, and while I still interacted with the Pakistani fans around me, I do feel like this experience could have been even better had my family also been with me. I also regret not taking a picture at this iconic ground, many people asked me to take a picture of them from their phones, but, regrettably, I didn’t do the same for myself. This is a game that I will one day tell my grandchildren about, and it is a shame I won’t have any pictures of me to go with it.

 

Marks out of 10

Honestly speaking, 11 out of 10. The day was amazing from start to finish, exactly how I wanted it to be, the match was amazing, and the partying outside the stadium after Lord’s was unforgettable. You’d be forgiven for thinking we had won the World Cup, such were the scenes. As I returned home, barely able to speak properly after the chanting all day, I felt as alive I’ve ever been, despite having such a long day on only a few hours of sleep. We go again at Edgbaston on Wednesday, with the atmosphere expected to be just as good, if not better, and if the experience is even half as good as it was at Lord’s, then it would be worth every single penny.

Written by Hadi Rizvi