Two wickets remaining, 12 runs required, 1 over left and fingernails barely left on the fingers of the cricket crazy crowd in Gaddafi – Bilawal Bhatti slams Vitori over long on for a six, two balls later with four required, Bilawal crisply times the ball through covers and finishes off the match with two deliveries to spare. There are chants of “Bhatti, Bhatti, Bhatti” all around the ground, not long ago this very stadium was angry at the same man. Earlier Bilawal had conceded 31 runs in his 3 overs.

The 2nd match had the same atmosphere as the first, if the opening T20 was the homecoming then this was the celebration of that. In all the festivity Zimbabwe must have felt hard done by, they truly gave the hosts a run for their money. Pakistan for the second match in a row had to chase a total of over 170, something they have managed to do successfully only once before the start of this series. On Friday the two Pakistani openers started off on fire, it was a little more subdued on Sunday. With the score at 44, 98 short of the opening stand on Friday, Ahmed Shehzad presented Sibanda with the first of his three catches off Vitori’s bowling. Meanwhile Mukhtar went on his merry way as if there was zero pressure on him, like a lion waiting to strike, he pounced on anything pitched up to him. He brought up his second fifty in as many matches and was deservingly named Man Of the Match and Man Of the Series. Mukhtar eventually got out after making 62, he was the 4th wicket to fall and Sibanda’s 3rd catch. Earlier Sibanda had also caught Nauman Anwar, the swashbuckling teenager from the Sialkot Stallions scored a quick fire 18. Malik who was penny-pinching with the ball could only conjure up 7 runs with bat in hand in as many deliveries before being run out.

By the time Shahid Afridi came out to bat amidst jaw dropping reception from the crowd, Pakistan required 59 off 39 deliveries. Boom Boom provided euphoria by depositing Williams into the stands however euphoria was followed by disappointment. Afridi skied the ball, the crowd cheered, soon realizing it’s not heading into the stands but into a fielder’s hands,  mid on and mid off converged, almost collided, but Sikander Raza eventually managed to hold on to the catch. That one delivery summed up the Lala-effect, from elation - to hearts in mouths- to chaos - to realization. No other man can take cricket fans through that emotional roller coaster ride.

Rizwan, Imad and Anwar didn’t contribute much with the bat yet Pakistan for a second time in three days won the match in the final over to clinch the series 2-0. Earlier Zimbabwe started off in fine style yet again. The openers punished everything lose from the Pakistani Pacers and the icing on the cake for the Zimbabwean top order was Williams’ maiden T20 fifty, however the spinners pulled the score back. There was no real flurry at the end of the Zimbabwean innings apart from Chingumbura’s onslaught on Sami, who was hit for 3 consecutive sixes. Malik, a failure with the bat on his comeback was the most economical bowler, a decent bowling effort from him again. In 10 overs of spin, Imad, Afridi and Malik only conceded 73 off the eventual 175 runs scored by Zimbabwe.

The scoreboard of this series will read 2-0 to Pakistan. The stats will show Pakistan chased a total of 170 plus twice in three days but this series has been far more momentous than that. It is the first step on the climb to the Everest and Pakistan’s Everest is to bring regular international cricket back into the country. Let’s not fool ourselves, Australia isn’t going to turn up on our doorstep next week asking for a series in Pakistan, this is a process that will require a lot of time and a lot of effort. Inviting Kenya last year opened the door, Zimbabwe accepted the invitation into our drawing room now let’s hope our guests tell tales of our hospitality and we are able to invite more guests in the future. According to Pakistani culture if the T20s were the “mehndi” in a wedding then the ODIs will be the “barat.”  The “mehndi” has been fun now let’s hope the “barat” is classy.

Cricket has come home, let’s give it more reasons to keep visiting.