Pakistan cricket fans and former players believe only winning will allow the team to overcome a match fixing scandal that has resulted in several players being suspended.
Zaheer Abbas, known as the Asian Bradman, said on Wednesday that one win could boost the morale of the team which lost back-to-back, Twenty20 internationals against England this week.
“Victory is the only solution to lift the morale of the team,” Abbas said on Thursday.
England clinch the Twenty20 series 2-0 and the two teams will start a five match, one-day series on Friday.
During the Twenty20 matches, the ongoing investigation of the Pakistan players appeared to take its toll with the team’s batsmen especially looking out of sorts.
The ICC has provisionally suspended Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif after a British newspaper alleged they were paid to deliberately bowl no-balls in a test match against England.
They have 14 days to decide whether they want to appeal against the suspension.
Most of the Pakistan batsmen fell to poor shot selection on Wednesday with England dismissing Pakistan for 89 – its lowest ever total in a Twenty20 international.
“Batting is the real problem and I think captain Shahid Afridi should have showed some responsibility,” Abbas said.
Afridi was one of the culprits of throwing away the wicket for just two runs while he had more than 15 overs at his disposal.
“He had a lot of time and should have showed some patience,” Abbas said.
Afridi said he missed the suspended trio of opening batsman Butt, Asif and Amir – something Abbas seemed to suggest didn’t make a lot of sense.
“I don’t know how vital Butt is for T20 because he doesn’t regularly plays this form of the game,” Abbas said. “We did miss Asif and Amir in bowling, but we could have managed without them if our batsmen had put enough runs on board.”
Most fans just want the investigation by the ICC and Scotland Yard to complete their investigation so the team can move forward. Until then, most fear that the team’s performance will be overshadowed by the probe.
“How can you expect the players to play with no pressure when the inquiry against their teammates is still going on?” questions Yousuf Mustafa, a college student. “Either our three players are guilty or they are not guilty. There’s no third option.”
For many fans like Taha Shaikh Shabbir, winning would help bring some joy to a country which continues to endure suicide bombings and the fallout from massive flooding that has left millions homeless.
“Hockey is our national sport, but cricket is 10 times popular than that,” Shabbir said. “We feel proud whenever our cricket team performs well in otherwise depressing news emerging from our country.”