KARACHI / LAHORE / ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR / QUETTA: The streets of all major cities lit up with celebrations Sunday night after the Pakistani cricket team defied the odds to thrash rival India in the Champion’s Trophy final in London.
The upset was watched by hundreds of millions of fans globally, possibly a billion, and brought normal life to a standstill across much of the sub-continent.
But when bowler of the tournament Hasan Ali picked up the final wicket of Jasprit Bumrah to put the Indian tail out of its misery for just 158 runs — 180 shy of Pakistan‘s mammoth 338, celebratory gunfire erupted in neighbourhoods up and down the country.
People poured into bazaars and markets in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to celebrate the win by blaring patriotic pop songs, as youths performed wheelies on motorcycles and waved flags as they dangled out of cars.
The win came as mainly people prepares for Eid after Ramazan — though for many fans, the festival had already arrived. “I’m so happy. Eid came early for Pakistanis this year!”, tweeted user Berry Aneurysm.
Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi euphoric
Karachi wore a deserted look as commercial activities were almost at a standstill due to the match, but gunshots rang out with each boundary and wicket.
In the twin cities if Islamabad and Rawalpindi, cricket fans took out rallies in cars and motorbikes with patriotic music blasting from their cars. People also gathered at market places and squares, dancing to the beat of drums and horns. Others waved national flags.
There were reports of celebratory firing in different neighbourhoods of the city. However, there were no immediate reports of any injuries.
A rush of people was also witnessed outside major sweet shops as fans, young and old alike, gathered to distribute sweets in Saddar, Murree Road, Raja Bazaar, Sadiqabad and Commercial market.
Interestingly, a number of cinema houses had set aside their regular schedules to screen the match live on their large screens.
Similarly, Lahori’ites took to the streets in large numbers to celebrate the thumping victory of the green shirts over their arch-rivals.
Crowds of youngsters gathered on the Mall Road, Liberty Market, Moon Market Allama Iqbal Town and various other areas of the city to celebrate the team’s victory. They were chanting in favour of their favourite cricket stars, especially Fakhar Zaman and Muhammad Amir. Many of them were seen dancing atop their cars, waving national flags.
A cricket enthusiast Chaudhry Mudassar said, “It was a great team work and Allah blessed Pakistan with a great victory.”
Another fan Waheed, who was wearing the Pakistan cricket team’s official T-shirt, said, “The match turned really amazing when Amir crushed India’s top tree batsmen. Faces of Indian players and audiences were really miserable.”
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was witnessed supporting team Pakistan by wearing the official green shirt, enjoyed the final match with his family and congratulated the cricket team and the nation on defeating India.
Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Senior Central Leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi enjoyed the final match with their friends and party members. They congratulated the team for its exceptional performance and determination in winning the Champions Trophy.
Peshawar witnessed a lot of cricket fans chanting in support of the team.
One of the fans, Hasham Khan waving the national flag said, “Wining the Champions Trophy against India was like clinching the World Cup.”
Restricting the Indian team to such a low score was beyond expectations, he added.
Soon after the win, aerial firing was witnessed across the city in which 21 people were injured and 66 rounded up, according to sources.
Another cricket lover Mohammad Rafique said the match against India was far more enjoyable than the rest of the cricket teams.
“We have enjoyed the cricket fight between Pakistan and India from the very first ball despite Ramazan in which people pay less attention to entertainment,” said Rafique.
Heavy traffic congestion was also witnessed on the city’s thoroughfare.
Celebrations were seen in the provincial capital of Balochistan where people danced to the beats of the drums.
Frontier Constabulary Dalbandin celebrated the victory in Dalbandin headquarters with drum roll and firecrackers. The citizens of Dalbandin also celebrated by resorting to aerial firing and taking out a rally in the Kohlu area of Balochistan.
The Hindu community jumped onto the celebrating bandwagon with firecrackers.
A farmer of Mastung district Gulzar Ahmed said, “It is blessing of Allah that we won the World Cup in the month of Ramazan, got independence in Ramazan and now we won the Champions Trophy in this holy month. I demand the ICC to conduct the next World Cup in Ramazan.”
(with additional input from AFP)