Babar Azam of Pakistan. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEE WARREN
Babar Azam of Pakistan. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEE WARREN

Mumbai — People poured onto the streets and set off fireworks to celebrate Pakistan’s first win over arch-rivals India at the World Cup on Sunday, with Prime Minister Imran Khan among those hailing the victory by Babar Azam’s side.

Heading into the Twenty20 World Cup’s Super 12 match in Dubai, Pakistan had not defeated their neighbours in 12 previous meetings at a global tournament but ended that drought with a thumping 10-wicket deluge.

“Congratulations to the Pakistan team and especially to Babar Azam who led from the front, as well as to the brilliant performances of [Mohammad] Rizwan and Shaheen Afridi,” Khan, a former World Cup winning captain himself, wrote on Twitter. “The nation is proud of you all.”

Afridi’s three wickets restricted India’s total while Babar and opening partner Rizwan powered Pakistan to the 152-run target with 13 balls to spare.

Cricket in Pakistan was dealt a body blow in September when New Zealand cut short their tour citing security concerns, with England then following suit. The decisions infuriated Pakistan’s players and are likely to hamper the country’s efforts to persuade top teams to tour.

Cricket board chief Ramiz Raja asked the players to channel their anger at the tournament and they responded superbly. “It’s the first one, the most magnificent one, but remember the journey has just begun ... such a proud moment for all Pakistanis and thank you boys for providing us this moment to cherish,” Raja said on Twitter.

Former India players also praised Pakistan but backed their team to bounce back and contend for a spot in the semifinals.

“Am sure they will learn from their mistakes and come back stronger. But I must compliment Pakistan for their brilliant win. They were a better team today,” said former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

“India have plenty of work ahead, but have the pedigree to bounce back quickly,” said former batter VVS Laxman.

Reuters

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