Champions Trophy triumph gets positive spin in Pakistan

Mohammad Amir celebrates taking the wicket of India's Shikhar Dhawan during the ICC Champions Trophy final on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2017
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Champions Trophy triumph gets positive spin in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The 600 people of the Dawoodi bohra community were supposed to be gathering to have food together in a hall soon after breaking a 15 1/2 -hour fast on Sunday.
Instead, those who gathered at the religious center in Rawalpindi delayed the food in order to watch Pakistan’s historic win over India at the Champions Trophy on a giant TV screen. For them, and for millions of people across Pakistan, the taste of victory was sweet.
“You can expect anything from only one cricket team in the world and that is Pakistan,” Ali Abbas Mandosarwala, who was at the center with his wife, two sons and a daughter, said as India was bowled out for 158 and lost the final by a margin of 180 runs.
“Honestly I wasn’t expecting Pakistan to go beyond the group stage,” he added, reflecting on the unpredictable nature of the national team, “but the young players have shown there’s nothing impossible in this world.”
Communities gathered around TV screens throughout the country on Sunday night to share the moment as Pakistan won its first ever Champions Trophy, just weeks after being written off following a loss in the tournament’s opening match — also against India.
Jubilant fans spilled onto the streets dancing and distributing sweets soon after Hasan Ali claimed the last Indian wicket in the 31st over.
Led by Fakhar Zaman’s aggressive 114 off 106 balls, Pakistan scored 338-4 at The Oval in London after India won the toss and surprisingly opted to field first. In reply India was skittled with nearly 20 overs to spare.
The national media on Monday heaped praise on the team.
“Pakistan champion, rolled over Indian team,” leading Urdu language Daily Jang printed across its front page.
Seam bowlers Mohammad Amir and Ali took three wickets apiece to lead the Pakistan bowling attack in the country’s first appearance in the final of the limited-overs tournament which is regarded as a mini-World Cup.
“India couldn’t even make half of the score, whole team booked in 30.3 overs,” the Daily Jang said.
It was a stunning turnaround for Pakistan, which was ranked eighth in the eight-team competition and lost its opening group match against India by 124 runs.
Under Sarfraz Ahmed’s captaincy, Pakistan beat South Africa and Sri Lanka in the remaining group matches before surprising host England in the semifinals. Ali, the right-arm seamer, took 13 wickets to win the player-of-the-tournament award
“All hail the champs,” the English-language Express Tribune headlined its lead front page story.
The Daily Dawn noted Amir’s three wickets in his opening spell, which included the key wicket of Virat Kohli, while describing Fakhar’s century in only his fourth ODI as scintillating.
“Pakistan break jinx, trounce India in dream final,” the Dawn proclaimed in its lead story.
The News said Pakistan “sizzled at the sun-baked Oval” to record their first major victory in the 50-over format since winning the World Cup in 1992.
“The stars aligned for Pakistan on a bright Sunday in South London when they cut their old rivals down to size to win their maiden Champions Trophy crown,” The News said.


Mohamed Salah’s brilliance and impact better seen off-pitch than on it

Updated 26 April 2018
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Mohamed Salah’s brilliance and impact better seen off-pitch than on it

  • Jurgen Klopp praises the positive impact Mohamed Salah has had on attitudes towards Islam and the Arab World
  • Salah has 43 goals in all competitions this season and is a serious Ballon d'Or contender

LONDON: “Mohamed Salah is the best footballer in the world at the moment,” “Salah is up there with Messi and Ronaldo,” “Salah has the world at
his feet...”
In a world ever more prone to hyperbole and after yet another masterclass from the Egyptian ace, it is not surprising that such grandiose statements get bandied about with the regularity of a Salah goal. The 25-year-old was simply sublime during Liverpool’s 5-2 destruction of Roma on Tuesday night.
He has now scored 43 times this season, has a genuine chance of winning the Ballon d’Or, and with every match looks more deserving of the superstar mantle his admirers have given him.
But while we can sit back and marvel at his talent, all those tributes are perhaps missing the point. We can debate whether he is a world-beater on the pitch, but what is not in doubt is that Salah is a game-changer off it — and that is the true mark of just how impressive he has been since moving to Liverpool.
Go to Anfield for any match now and, once the rousing rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has died down, it is likely you will next hear the Liverpool fans’ hymn to Salah. Sung to the tune of “Good Enough” by Britpop band Dodgy, it goes like this: “If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim, too.” Such is the “Salah effect.”
Britain is a hugely fractured country at the moment. The Brexit vote and debate surrounding it has held up a mirror to an island ill at ease with itself, with regressive attitudes to race, religion and immigration out in the open.
That Salah has been welcomed with open arms and lauded in that climate — albeit in a city with a proud tradition of tolerance — is quite something, not least at a time when Islamaphobic attacks in the UK are on the rise and when, as recently as 2016, a national newspaper ran a headline that claimed “1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis.”
The context of the Salah worship evident not just in Liverpool, but also around the country has not been lost on his manager, Jurgen Klopp.
“(The hero status of Salah) is fantastic. It’s exactly what we need in these times,” the German told Channel 4 News.
“To see this wonderful young man, full of joy, full of love, full of friendship, full of everything, in a world where we all struggle a little bit to understand all the things happening around on this planet — so it’s just fantastic.
“He is a Muslim and he is doing all the things that Muslims are doing before a game, washing procedures and stuff like that … like Sadio (Mane) by the way, like Emre Can, by the way; they all do that. Nobody says what we have to be…
“Now we wait, that’s completely normal in a team and that’s how in an ideal world the world would work; we all try to understand each other and deal with all the little strange things for the one or the other.”
Sport sometimes aims for profundity when there is none. Witness any stomach-churning statement of national brilliance during an Olympics, or any underdog story, and you will find people deriving a lot more from some match than the simple “team scores more to win game” narrative that is most set in reality.
But the “Salah effect” has prompted real change off the pitch. From fans singing “I’ll be a Muslim, too” to appreciating the Liverpool talisman simply as a great player regardless of background, the “Egyptian King” is a genuine role model for his country, the region and Islam at a time when the world needs it most.
“We are all kind of ambassadors and sometimes we fit to that role and sometimes not, and at the moment Mo is the perfect ambassador for Egypt, for the whole Arabic world. I love that,” Klopp said.
So it is immaterial whether Salah wins the Champions League for Liverpool, beats Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or or leads Egypt deep in the World Cup — he has already done more than most footballers do.
Should the positive image of both Arabs and Muslims he has created endure, then that will be his true mark of greatness.