Champion of champions warmly welcomed home
KARACHI (92 News) – Thousands of fans stayed up late and gathered in the cities of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad on Tuesday and welcomed home members of new Champions Trophy winner Pakistan.
Pakistan’s victorious Champions Trophy cricketers have been welcomed home as heroes, with huge crowds gathering as the celebrations continue unabated.
Hundreds jam streets outside captain Sarfraz Ahmed’s Karachi home for glimpse of hero and his silverware.
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.
Even after the special convoy escorting Sarfraz Ahmed from the airport got within sight of his Karachi home in the early hours of the morning, it took the Pakistan captain nearly a half-hour to get from the vehicle to his house as a throng of adoring cricket fans clamored for photographs.
Fans decorated the street and waited through the night to welcome their hero, with some carrying children on their shoulders to get a glimpse of the man who led Pakistan to an unlikely win in the Champions Trophy in London.
Supporters unfurled a 70-foot (21-meter) long national flag and carried it in the street as Ahmed drove in, as police tried to clear a path.
Sarfraz Ahmed waved the trophy from the balcony of his house as he was showered with rose petals as the crowd chanted “Pakistan Zindabad,” meaning long live Pakistan. “This is your trophy and we won it just because of you,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed and fast bowler Ruman Raees arrived in Karachi at 4:45am with the trophy that Pakistan had won for the first time.
The huge support underlines Sarfraz’s plea in the immediate aftermath of the final, when he called for international teams to return to Pakistan for top-flight cricket. “I hope this win will boost Pakistan cricket and hopefully all the (major) playing nations will come to Pakistan,” said Sarfraz.
Raees said he didn’t sleep for two days because of all the excitement following Pakistan’s first win in a major cricket tournament since the 1992 World Cup. “I dedicate the win to the whole nation and we enjoyed the victory a lot, congratulations to the whole country,” Raees said.
Four players of the national cricket team arrived at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore early this morning after winning the ICC Champions Trophy.
The players, including Hassan Ali, Baber Azam, Fahim Ashraf and Ahmad Shahzad, were warmly welcomed at the airport by the provincial ministers and a large number of cricket lovers and fans of the players.
Punjab Ministers Mian Mujtaba Shujaa-ur-Rehman, Raza Ali Gilani, Jehangir Khanzad and Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan were present at the airport to accord a cordial welcome to the winning cricketers. Foolproof security measures were taken to avert any untoward incident and heavy contingents of the police were deployed at the airport.
Messages such as “Champion of champions. Team Pakistan! Welcome back after such a tremendous victory” were emblazoned on banners erected at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore when the team landed.
Fans surrounded Ali’s car and showered it with rose petals, while the fast bowler smiled and waved from inside the vehicle.
A similar reception was accorded to man-of-the-match in the final, Fakhar Zaman, who smashed 114 off 106 balls, when he landed in Peshawar.
Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Junaid Khan arrived in Islamabad where a fleet of policemen gave guard of honor to the three players at the airport.