"Sarfaraz Sorry," Pakistan-the Fans Of The Team, Look At Yourself In The Oblivion Of Last Week > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - "Sarfaraz we are sorry" - Pakistan fans, team, look at forgetting the last week
While Pakistan and South Africa locked horns at the iconic Lord's to stay alive in the tournament, a picture of a fan, donning Pakistan shirt, holding a placard in the stands made rounds on the social media.
The four words "Sarfaraz We Are Sorry" scripted on a white chart paper stemmed from the realization that how ugly the backlash of the defeat against India had gotten. With Pakistan not scheduled to feature in another match for a week, the bruises of yet another loss to the arch-rival in the World Cup ached the fans, ex-cricketers, and even journalists which saw the team getting shred apart with every passing second.
The scrutiny about the side's conduct, whether on and off the field, increased manifold on mainstream and the social media. The news anchors had forgotten about the country's faltering economy and the controversial anti-corruption drive (due to which all the opposition parties' leaders in prison) in the country as Pakistan's abysmal performance remained at the forefront. The social media, like always, was unrelenting.
Such was its enormity that it looked like a smear campaign, like the ones designed by political parties. The most uproarious memes attracted the most traction which resulted in a battle to curate the most smearing or hilarious (depending on the side you are on) content. The clips of former cricketers berating this lot and the on-field gestures by the players, like Sarfraz's yawn, became permanent fixtures on the Twitter timeline.
But, this all subdued towards the end of the past week when a video of a fan while abusing Sarfraz Ahmed, who held his toddler, and echoing what a former international player had said about the Pakistan skipper's weight - after Pakistan's loss to the West Indies in their tournament opener - went viral on the social media. The players, before this incident, had to request the fans to keep their families out of the criticism.
Since their very first defeat, the players had been called names by the fans, as they videoed them throughout the tournament. And, the most audible of the insults were driven from the cacophony on the mainstream media. Against such an ugly backdrop, perhaps, the aforementioned incident had become inevitable.
When Sarfraz was put a question about this on the eve of the match against South Africa, he laughed the laugh of a disappointed, weakened man - who doesn't have an option but to accept such attacks as a part and parcel of being a Pakistan player. But, when asked, Sarfraz along with voicing his resentment also pinpointed the roots of such reactions.
"Social media and media are not in our control," he had said. "They are so big that you cannot stop them. Teams have lost before but now on social media it is unstoppable. Had this happened before, people would have known how hurtful is all this. Whoever thinks [anything, they just] write it on social media.
"There have been incidents with the players. Obviously, players are affected psychologically. Such things shouldn't happen. People do what they see and hear."
That the team had been through mental toil was also evident in Mickey Arthur's post-match press conference on Sunday.
When a reporter put a question about Haris Sohail's fitness, or thereof lack of it, the Pakistan head coach, though later admitted the batsman's inability to run twos towards the backend of the Pakistan innings due to tiredness, questioned "why are you always talking negatively about our players? Let's just write something positive for a change."
When another brought up the jubilation back home because of the fightback, Arthur, made sure to pinpoint the change of tone in a matter of a week. "Well, you weren't saying that last Sunday," he told the reporter. "It's amazing what a difference a week makes. Our boys hurt this week, all of us hurt, incredibly. Guys didn't sleep much, but they came to the training every day and put in, in order to try and turn it around, and today we got some just reward."
The mood had taken 180-degree turn at Lord's after Pakistan completed their victory from what it was at the Old Trafford when Pakistan faltered in their run chase against India. The fans shouted at Sarfraz. But, this time for his autographs and selfies. A contingent of fans, controlled by the security staff, could be seen begging Sarfraz for his attention in a 35-second video released by the Pakistan Cricket Board on Twitter.
Cricket is a great equalizer, they say.
Pakistan now find themselves in a familiar predicament. Even wins in all three remaining matches - against New Zealand, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh - don't guarantee them a semifinal berth as they await for the current top teams, on the points table, to lose for a spot to open.
Arthur conceded that his side is "banking on other teams doing us a favour, as well", but for that situation to arise, Pakistan need to sort out their even-worsening fielding. They have dropped 14 catches in five completed matches which is the most in the tournament.
"That's the million dollar question," replied Arthur, when he was asked about Pakistan's fielding woes. Against South Africa, they had grassed as many as seven chances - including the half-ones. "We train and we train and we train, and we've put in massive amounts of work. That's something we'll be exploring again in the next couple of days because we can't be dropping that many catches and expect to beat teams getting into almost a knockout phase for us.
"Our problem is we haven't put three disciplines together yet in any game. So as the gentleman pointed out: We bowled well; we batted well; we didn't field well today. So when we put three disciplining together, we'll be exceptional. The closest we've got was when we beat England."
But until their next match, which is against New Zealand on Wednesday, Arthur looks to relish this sweet win that has brought a drastic transformation in the atmosphere. And, he hopes for things to stay this way - at least for a little while.
"What I do know is that guys do, when their backs to the wall, we get some good performances out of them, and maybe, yeah, I just think the guys were burnt last week. The guys were incredibly hurt, by media, by public, by social media, and hopefully we got a proper reaction from them today that can just shut some people up for a little while.
"Our guys need to be built up all the time. The minute they are bashed, like they have been the last week, our guys don't respond to that in a very kind way, and hopefully we got a performance out today that vindicates the talent the boys have on the team."
A week since the backlash began, the same social media was full of praises for the same side they battered. The official handle of the World Cup posted a picture of a fan raising a placard which perfectly summed up the mood. '#RecoveredFromOldTrafford' said the placard. Whether they actually have is something that the next two weeks will tell.
But, it is certain, that both the fans and their team would like to forget the past week.
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