Hundreds of fans stayed up late to welcome home members of the national cricket team returning after their historic win against arch-rivals India at London’s Oval Ground.
Crowds had gathered at airports in Karachi and Lahore early Tuesday morning, eagerly awaiting the return of the champions.
Fans decorated the entire street and house of captain Sarfaraz Ahmed who arrived with fast bowler Ruman Raees at4:45 am with the trophy that Pakistan had won for the first time.Some even climbed on rooftops and balconies to watch the captain return home. They had waited through the night to welcome their hero, with some carrying children on their shoulders to get a glimpse of the winning captain.
Fans had also brought a special 70-foot long national flag and carried it in the street as Sarfaraz drove home in a special convoy provided by the provincial government.
Sarfaraz held up the trophy to loud cheers and chants of “Long live Sarfaraz!” as a police band played patriotic songs nearby.
It took Sarfaraz nearly half an hour to enter his house once his car drove into the street as fans clamoured for photos and a glimpse of their national team captain and police tried to clear the way.Sarfaraz waved the trophy from the balcony of his house as he was showered with rose petals, much to the delight of his fans who were chanting “Pakistan Zindabad.”
“This is your trophy and we won it just because of you,”.
‘We have created a legacy’
Speaking to reporters after arriving at his house, Sarfaraz said that the team’s victory in the Champions Trophy final will be remembered for years to come.
“We have created a legacy. I believe this victory will not be forgotten, it will always be remembered,” Sarfaraz said.
He added that the team would start preparing for the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World Cup 2019 in due time but right now “we will enjoy this victory”.
“Our seniors have performed excellently in important matches,” the captain said in response to questions about the performance of the national team’s young talent.
“It is a good sign for Pakistan that the young players performed well,” Sarfaraz said, adding that 9 of the players were participating in the Champions Trophy for the first time.
“Winning the trophy was difficult,” Sarfaraz said, adding, “It was a team effort”.
The captain told media the players had initially come under a lot of pressure and gave complete credit to the team management for motivating them.
“This was a big victory for me, for the team and for the country.”