Pakistan's turnaround in the 2017 Champions Trophy, where they eventually went on to win the tournament after getting thrashed by India in their opening game, can safely be described as a fairytale. It was a much-needed win for a nation that has not witnessed international cricket in its backyard for nearly a decade now, a phase which has also seen the national team in a state of disarray.
Pakistan deserve every bit of credit for outplaying India in all departments in the final of the mega-event at the Oval on 18 June, and Indian captain Virat Kohli was sporting enough to acknowledge the fact that Sarfraz Ahmed's team were streets ahead of them on that day. However, a recent statement from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan after the victory is creating headlines, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
According to a report on Pakpassion.net, Shahryar "challenged" the Indian team to tour Pakistan for a bilateral series.
"After our win, we challenge India to come and play bilateral cricket with us. They don't play us, they are scared of our team. They say we'll play you in ICC matches but they won't play us otherwise," said Shahryar at an event felicitating the victorious Pakistan team, hosted by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at his residence in Islamabad on Tuesday.
The former foreign secretary of Pakistan added that he was in talks with the boards of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh about possible tours in order to bring international cricket back to the nation.
"After this win, every team will want to play us. They should now come to Pakistan, there is complete security. God-willing, teams will start coming. We are in negotiations with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and West Indies. They can send their teams first for a short tour, maybe for just T20Is," added Shahryar.
The PM's reception also witnessed victorious captain Sarfraz being appointed as the leader of the Test team, succeeding Pakistan legend Misbah-ul-Haq in the role. Sarfraz thus became the first cricketer to lead the nation in all three formats, with Misbah being the last to do so back in 2012.
Incidentally, Sarfraz expressed views similar to that of Shahryar, although he made his statement back in March, when quizzed on India's refusal to entertain a bilateral series against Pakistan. However, his opinion was countered by the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi.