Superhero movies have taken the world by storm, every major production house opts to invest in mainstream comic hero movies and why not, its success guaranteed. These movies are action packed without complex plots, they are simple and have one aim only; get as many people excited about the movie as possible and make as much money as possible. ODI cricket has followed a similar trend in the recent past, high scoring matches attract crowds and there aren’t many plot twists, you go out there and just try to outscore the opposition. Gone are the days of mainstream actors trying their hand at difficult projects and gone are the days of bowlers trying to get batsmen out, it’s all about containment and following a script that guarantees entertainment.
Pakistan have been trying to catch up with the rest of the world and in the process perhaps lost their identity. You can’t make superhero movies with limited budgets and you can’t consistently score 300+ with Pakistan’s limited batting resources. The match vs India was Pakistan’s attempt at making a low budget superhero movie, the plan was to contain and outscore India; it was like watching superman vs the Green Arrow, we all know who wins that fight.
Something changed after the India match, the burden of expectation had been lifted; no one, not even Pakistanis expected their batsmen to suddenly be bitten by spiders and gain superpowers overnight. Instead Pakistan decided to go old school. You can’t be the highest grossing movie without budget but you can win an Oscar if you get your plot and your actors right. Pakistan decided to back their bowlers, there was no attempt to contain the opposition, the idea was to get wickets at regular intervals, use reverse swing (kryptonite for batsmen) and not burden the batsmen with too much responsibility.
Pakistan took on South Africa and beat them because Pakistan embraced its identity. In a low scoring match affected by rain, Pakistan won by 19 runs. For neutral observers the match might have been a slow burner and not to everyone’s taste but then again most critically acclaimed low budget movies aren’t supposed to keep you on the edge of your seats. There were moments that made you gush and appreciate the artistry of Pakistan’s bowling but Pakistan’s batting made you realize this wasn’t going to be a huge box office success.
The next match was versus Sri Lanka, it was a thriller not like Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ but much like Sidney Lumet’s ’12 angry men’. Pakistan relied heavily on the bowlers but yet again the batsmen let them down and eventually a bowler had to take the responsibility of finishing the match off with the bat.
Next up were tournament favorites, England; a daunting prospect. England have embraced modern ODI cricket like no other team, they score 300+ runs for fun but their main bowlers have the highest boundaries to balls ratio in the tournament. England are the ultimate modern ODI team, their batting lineup is like the avengers; from top to bottom it is filled with superstars capable of winning the match on their own. Pakistan can’t beat England at their own game so Pakistan decided to do what Pakistan do best; bowl their heart out and outsmart the English batsmen. This was no thriller, it was a walk in the park for Pakistan; it felt like ‘The Avengers’ competing with ‘The Artist’ for the best picture award at the Oscars.
And here we are, Pakistan have reached the final; this team might not satisfy your need for watching action packed hitting but this team is artistic and requires a special kind of taste. This team had the least amount of resources at the start of this tournament but this team is the first team to reach the final. ‘Star Wars; Rogue one’ might have been the highest grossing movie of 2016 but ‘moonlight’ won the Oscar. Pakistan have finally realized what they are and embraced their identity. The world has gone ying and Pakistan has gone yang; that is why Pakistan’s hero is Hassan Ali not some batsman piling on the runs for fun. When you look at other teams, you think of Kohli, Smith, Amla, Williamson, Root etc; when you think of Pakistan, you think of its bowlers.