ICC Champions Trophy 2017
Gilchrist lauds 'nomadic' Pakistan
Former Test gloveman praises Champions Trophy winners for historic victory despite struggles back home
AFP & Cricket Network
20 June 2017, 08:01 PM AEST
Australian cricketing legend Adam Gilchrist has credited Pakistan's adaptability and perseverance in the face of domestic challenges as key to their rout of favourites India in the Champions Trophy.
Pakistan, once a cricketing powerhouse, has watched its world ranking slide as top teams have refused to tour the conflict-prone country, forcing the home side to play all international matches abroad.
Only Zimbabwe have visited Pakistan since a 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore which prompted all other major teams to call off tours.
Pakistan entered the eight-team Champions Trophy in England and Wales ranked dead last, but upset arch-rivals India with a 180-run thrashing in Sunday's final.
"Deep in your heart, as a cricket lover, you can't be disappointed to see a nation like that (win)," Gilchrist told reporters in New Delhi.
"We all know their struggles of not getting any international cricket back home.
"They are basically a nomadic team which plays abroad. Perhaps because of that, they were able to adjust well in those conditions."
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It was Pakistan's first international 50-over trophy since winning the 1992 World Cup.
Gilchrist compared their against-the-odds win to the West Indies' victory over England in the World Twenty20 final in 2016, despite troubles plaguing their cricket board at home.
"The only predictable thing about Pakistan cricket is that they are unpredictable," said the former wicketkeeper-batsman, adding the win was a "positive story" for cricket.
"Pakistan played what seems to be a perfect game of cricket.
"India, after a very impressive tournament, just got caught out on the big final day. That can happen."
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Pakistan were welcomed home as heroes, with huge crowds gathering as the celebrations continue unabated, with adulation reaching fever-pitch proportions.
Armed guards were required to make a path through the throngs as hundreds of fans gathered at the Karachi International Airport as the players returned home from London with the silverware.
Men, women and children packed the airport, and captain Sarfraz Ahmed held up the trophy to loud cheers and chants of "Long live Sarfraz!" as a police band played patriotic songs nearby and players' vehicles were showered with petals.
"(We won) thanks to Allah and the prayers of the whole nation," Ahmed said in brief comments as he jostled his way through the crowd of well-wishers.
Sarfraz was showered with bouquets and given a traditional skull cap and an 'ajrak' shawl, which is usually presented as a mark of honour.
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Supporters packed the street outside Sarfraz's Karachi residence, as well-wishers adorned the neighbourhood with colourful lights and Pakistan flags and climbed on rooftops and balconies for a glimpse of their hero.
And the inspirational leader did not disappoint, appearing on his balcony – with the trophy still firmly clutched – to lead the masses in a chant of "Pakistan Zindabad".