ISLAMABAD • Photographs of Pakistan cricket fans dancing in the streets were plastered all over the national newspapers yesterday, after their eighth-ranked team produced a thrilling landslide win against arch-rivals India in the Champions Trophy final.
Pakistan had arrived in Britain for the eight-team, one-day international tournament as the lowest-ranked side.
After a heavy opening loss to India, they beat top-ranked South Africa and Sri Lanka to reach the last four, where they stunned hosts England before outclassing India in Sunday's final.
"Great team effort. After losing the first game, we were nowhere," all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez told the official broadcasters after the team's 180-run win over India.
"We were in the knockout stage but no one gave us a chance. The way we showed character, this is for the nation. They have been waiting for this for a long, long time. This is the least we could do."
The most recent global success for Pakistan in one-day cricket before Sunday was the 1992 World Cup win under Imran Khan.
Since the departure of captains Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan from the 50-over format in 2015, Pakistan had slumped to ninth in the ODI rankings and barely managed to qualify for the Champions Trophy, contested by the top eight sides in the rankings.
With their inability to host top international sides on home soil due to security concerns and a spot-fixing controversy blighting their domestic T20 league, Sunday's win provided the country with some much-needed cheer.
The victory was splashed across most major newspapers, with leading English daily Dawn proclaiming: "Pakistan breaks jinx, trounce India in dream final." The country's largest paper, the Urdu daily Jang, announced: "Pakistan Champions, trounced Indian team."
The News, in a editorial headlined "Champions", said: "If there is one thing you can say about the Pakistan cricket team, it is that it exists to confound everyone."
Pakistan has a tradition of producing exciting fast bowlers and Mohammad Amir, 25, and Junaid Khan, 27, can be expected to spearhead the pace attack at the next World Cup.
Add accurate medium-pacer Hasan Ali, the player of the Champions Trophy, and 18-year-old leg-spinner Shadab Ali to the mix, and Pakistan have a bowling unit with enough menace to trouble any side in the world.
"We want to be a little more consistent as a team," said coach Mickey Arthur. "We now have two years to identify a squad we want to take forward and give them enough game time. That's the aim at the moment."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE