Sarfaraz Ahmed does an MS Dhoni; wins hearts on Twitter
The match, despite its usual competitiveness, was played out in good spirit.
Updated - Oct 1, 2019 5:20 pm
Its been ten years. Ten years of embracing a foreign land and adopting it as their virtual home. During these ten years, Pakistan has won, Pakistan has lost. They have won two ICC trophies [2009 T20 World Cup and off-course that 2017 Champions Trophy], have stayed at the top of the ICC Test rankings for a brief period and are currently the No.1 T20I side in the world.
There have been disappointments too. For the 4th time in this century, they failed to get past the league-stage of a 50-over World Cup; they were beaten by West Indies and Sri Lanka at their Dubai fortress and haven’t managed an ODI series win against a top-ranked side since 2013.
Yet, despite all these contrasting emotions, one emotion was a constant whether they won or lost: that feeling of not playing in front of their fans. An entire generation has grown up missing that feeling of playing in front of their fanatics. And, so when the Sri Lankan team sans big players finally agreed to tour Pakistan for the white-ball leg, it was still seen as an opportunity for the likes of Babar Azam to play and perform in front of their loyal fans.
And, even though, the first game turned out to damp squib, it did not dampen the spirits of the Pakistani players. Playing an ODI for the first time on home soil, Babar Azam and Usman Khan Shinwari made sure that they made the occasion a memorable one. Azam sizzled with a nonchalant 115 off 105, laying the cornerstone for an eventual match-winning target of 306.
This was Babar Azam’s 11 ODI ton. The right-handed batsman pipped Virat Kohli to become the third-fastest to rack up as many tons. While the quickest to 11 ODI tons is Hasim Amla [64 innings], Azam took 71 innings to reach the milestone as compared to Kohli who took 82 innings.
After Azam, it was the turn of Usman Shinwari [5-51] to turn up the heat. The left-handed fast bowler wrecked through Sri Lanka’s top-order to reduce them to 5-28. This was, however, followed by a record-breaking and a defiant 177-run stand between Shehan Jayasuriya  and Dasun Shanaka. The duo withstood pristine bowling, humidity, and adversity of the situation brilliantly to lead a valiant Sri Lankan comeback.
The match, despite its usual competitiveness, was played out in good spirit. One example of that was clearly evident when Shehan Jayasuriya  went down due to multiple cramps in his hamstring, the Pakistani players including skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed helped him to stretch out before the physio took over. Jayasuriya couldn’t complete what would have been a great hundred. Despite valiant attempts from Shanaka and Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka was eventually bowled out for 238 giving the hosts a 67-run win.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Sarfaraz Ahmed’s act
— ICC (@ICC) September 30, 2019
Picture of the day https://t.co/rsfofOUgTb
— Salman Ishaq 629 (@pro_pakistani01) October 1, 2019
Spirit of cricket! ❤ https://t.co/aoa9wxBST6
— Momi Qazi (@momiqazi) September 30, 2019
Sad day for India as Dhoni was the only captain to stretch opposition team's batsman's (DuPlessis) legs when he went down with cramps but now he is not alone in that spirited sportsmen's list. https://t.co/MH20wgleiy
— Saeed. (@LePathaan) September 30, 2019
— ThePoppingCrease (@PoppingCreaseSA) September 30, 2019
— Moazzam Ali Baig (@moazzamalibaig3) September 30, 2019
Yes… Hospitality by Pakistani is one of the great all over the world… not only on the field..🙂
— Random Person (@Zaidiiee1) September 30, 2019
Sportsmanship should never be forgotten..A great thing shown by Sarfaraz here..
Loved a lot..😍
— Deepanshu Sharma (@Deepans99709262) October 1, 2019
This is really spirit of cricket #Salute
— Adarsh Yadav (@AdarshAb17100) October 1, 2019