This post has been long overdue but my breath was stuck in my throat until the Zimbabwe team left Lahore, safe and sound. It did, and I can proudly say that this series was one of the best things that could have happened for the peoples’ morale.
The feeling of stepping into a stadium packed with charged cricket fans was overwhelming; it was a feeling that was long awaited and long overdue. The Lahore stadium was pulsating with energy, fans madly waving flags, banners and blowing on their bugles to create festivity that had been shrouded in the darkness of inactivity since 2009. Security was tight, with hundred of armed turtles armouring the entrances and intimidating helicopters hovering overhead much like dragonflies buzzing over ominous waters, but nothing could deter the enthusiasm. On social media the official PCB hashtag, #CricketComesHome was a top-trender throughout the world, securing the number one spot all across the country. Back on ground, the foot soldiers marched on and packed in, eagerly awaiting the games to begin…
Ali Zafar brought the house down with his energetic performance midway through the first T20, echoing the Super Bowl halftime pop acts that have now become tradition. ‘Channo’ kept the energy up between two innings, which wasn’t difficult considering the level of excitement in the air. An avid cricket fan, Ali refused to make a ‘guest appearance’ minutes before his performance and insisted on watching the entire match. We have to say it was well worth it!
Dressed in a crisp white Zara Shahjahan outfit, Humaima Malik brought some cine-oomph to the match, cheering for the teams while promoting her upcoming film with the hashtag #KhelMagarPyarSey.
Test Captain of the cricket team and hero to millions, Misbah ul Haq with Sikander Rizvi, who’ll be making his movie debut opposite Humaima in Asad ul Haq’s Dekh Magar Pyar Se. Sikander may be a Karachiite but here he was Nurjehan’s grandson, in his grandmother’s city. “It feels fantastic,” he said. “We’re here to cheer for both teams because we wouldn’t be here if Zimbabwe weren’t here!”
Pop princess Annie scored the halftime performance on the day of the second T20 match.
Regrouping: Pakistan team’s current ODI Captain, Azhar Ali met up with Adnan Siddiqui, Farhan Saeed and Urwa Hocane in the VIP enclosure after the second T20 match. The Captain’s real victory was celebrated a day later, when Pakistan hit a winning score of 373 against Zimbabwe.
Model watch: Mehreen Syed, smartly dressed in a white Faraz Manan outfit and Chanel pearls with Sabeeka Imam, who chose to show support in a cricket jersey and a green and white manicure.
I was in Lahore for the first T20 but the matches kept the cricket fever alive, in me and in Lahore. It was a hot and humid week but nothing could have sapped the peoples’ spirits. The Pakistan versus Zimbabwe series was the first in Lahore since 2009. Let’s hope it wasn’t the last!
All photographs courtesy Ali Agha and Encyclomedia PR