THE Pakistan cricket team has made the perfect start to its first tour in India in nearly five years with a handsome five-wicket win in the opening Twenty20 clash at Bangalore on Tuesday. The emphatic win scored by Mohammad Hafeez and his boys bore the stamp of class and clearly defied the notion that the team could turn in a below par performance in the crucial game. Those fears were the result of Pakistan’s two-and-a-half-month break from international cricket. History tells us that no Indian tour is an easy proposition for the Pakistan team, mainly due to the nerves involved but also because of the added challenge posed by the emotional crowds that fill up the large arenas to support their side. On Tuesday, however, Pakistan overcame all such odds in style to beat Dhoni and his men on their own turf in what was incidentally their first-ever T20 win over India.
Bilateral cricketing ties between Pakistan and India, unfortunately, remained suspended after the 2008 Mumbai blasts, and although the two arch-rivals did meet a number of times during the World Cups and other limited-over competitions across the globe, a win over India had always eluded Pakistan during this period. Against this backdrop, the win at Bangalore becomes all the more special for the visiting team. The victory, besides putting a smile on the faces of millions of Pakistani cricket fans at home and abroad, was a personal triumph for former skipper Shoaib Malik who was all but written off by the critics after his repeated failures in international cricket during the past four years or so. The win must also have been quite gratifying for the team’s Australian coach Dav Whatmore who has been under the spotlight for his hitherto unremarkable stint with the Pakistanis.