The scoresheet will identify winners and losers at the end of the 40 overs at Lord’s on Sunday in the ICC World Twenty20 final but never reflect the courage Sri Lanka have shown in returning to competitive cricket, less than four months after a daring terrorist attack on the team in Lahore.
Nor, for that matter, will it indicate how Pakistan themselves have bounced back from virtual isolation in world cricket in the wake of the Lahore attack. The final will be much more than usual T20 cricket game – it will be an amalgam of myriad emotions and yet players will have to shut out and concentrate on the ball.
To be sure, this is more than a simple game of cricket. If you look carefully beyond the cricket, you may find some dark emotions that the player so dearly want to drive away. And if you get past those as well, you may find other wonderful emotions, notably hope that flickers and powers them – and the peoples they represent.
“I think it is a fitting reward for the courage that the team has shown in this tournament,” Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said after the semifinal win over the West Indies. “What Lahore got home to us was the fact that we are just the same as anyone else. It is great the way the guys have prepare mentally and we are concentrating on cricket.”
The genial Pakistan captain Younis Khan also indicated that the ICC World Twenty20 would mean a lot to the people of Pakistan. “Our law and order situation is not the best; there is a lot of fighting going on,” he said. “If we win this title, it will be a good change for my people – especially those from the north where I hail from.”
To sit down and assess the cricketing talent of the sides squaring up in the second successive all-Asian Derby in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 would be in some ways reducing the beauty of this game that amply reflects the life and times we live in, mirrors the society in which the teams learn and play their cricket.
On March 3, when gunmen attack the Sri Lankan team bus and left the cricket world wounded permanently, few would have wagered on the team from the teardrop island in the Indian Ocean and the side from a nation that is ravaged by strife making it to the title clash of the first ICC competition.
But it is a tribute to the competitive spirit of the men from both nations that they have not only willed themselves on but have beaten some very good sides to make it to the final. And, what is more, the two teams have kept a low profile, Sri Lanka despite winning all six games in the tournament so far.
Now, Sri Lanka and Pakistan – armed with sets of wonderfully gifted cricketers with different skill sets but united by a singularity of purpose – will have to send all thoughts and emotions to the sub-conscious and focus on optimising the talent over 40 overs so they can lay their hands on the coveted prize.
Sri Lanka (from): Kumar Sangakkara (captain, wicket-keeper), Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Chamara Silva, Jehan Mubarak, Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Isuru Udana. Indika de Saram, Nuwan Kulasekara, Farvez Maharoof and Thilan Thushara.
Pakistan (from): Younis Khan (captain), Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Shahzaib Hasan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Fawad Alam, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Salman Butt, Sohail Tanvir, Ahmed Shehzad and Iftikhar Anjum.