Byline: Khalid H. Khan
IF anything the year gone by can be portrayed as a mixed bag of everything for Pakistan cricket. While their lack of wins on the Test fields of South Africa and Australia yet again endured painful memories, the huge disappointment was failure to make the knockout phase of the ICC 50-over World Cup in the summer. But as 2019 neared its conclusion, the landmark achievement from Pakistan's perspective was the return of Test cricket back on home soil after a yawning gap of 10 years and nine months.
In between the action on the field of play, there were a couple of grief-stricken moments for Pakistan cricket with the sudden deaths of legendary spinner Abdul Qadir and ex-ICC elite panel umpire Riazuddin.
It is suffice to mention here the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) embarking on the new road by first implementing a new constitution, and then acting on it, the domestic restructure was revamped in rather contentious circumstances since the previous stakeholders - most notably the departments who were actively involved in national competitions but were sent packing on the stroke of a pen.
The obvious highpoint of 2019 was Pakistan at long last staging their home Tests in front of their own crowds, with the team that was victims of the terror attacks on March 3, 2009 ending that elongated drought. The Pakistanis have no words to appreciate the tremendous gesture of the Sri Lankans in the revival of the highest form of cricket here.
Therefore, Dec 11, 2019 now assumes as the date of significance magnitude in the annals of Pakistan sports when the first ball was bowled in a Test on our own turf when Pakistan and Sri Lanka competed in the first fixture of the two-match series at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. And although rain and bad light badly disrupted the action, the enthusiasm of the fans in the garrison town was a salient feature, as accentuated by cricketing diehards thronging the stadium despite knowing a conclusion result had already gone.
The second Test at the National Stadium in Karachi provided a contrasting spectacle before Pakistan wrapped up a crushing 263-run victory to clinch the series 1-0. It was a game where Pakistan batsmen were in record-breaking mood and no one stood taller than the diminutive figure of Abid Ali. The 32-year-old opener came into the Karachi Test on the back of a unique world record, having scored an unbeaten 109 on debut in Rawalpindi to follow 112 in his maiden One-day...