Mohammad Hafeez and left-arm bowler fast bowler Junaid Khan were given a stirring welcome in their hometowns on Wednesday. The Pakistan Cricket team arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday with the Champions Trophy after beating India in the finals in London.
Junaid, who was struggling to gain a regular place in the team due to injuries, ended the tournament as the third highest wicket-taker with eight wickets in four matches.
He was received by thousands of fans in Dagai, his native village, in Swabi-interchange area. The 27-year-old played in all matches except the tournament opener on June 4 which was also against India.
“Not playing against India in the [Champions Trophy] group match really saddened me but when I got the chance of making a comeback in the final, I tried hard to be there as a team member,” 27-year-old Junaid said while talking to reporters.
The fast bowler also highlighted that the win will boost Pakistan’s chances of reviving international cricket in the country.
“We with the prayers of entire nation won the prestigious Champions Trophy title which no doubt lifted the image of Pakistan internationally. Hopefully, with our victory in the Champions Trophy, the negative perception of some of the foreign players about Pakistan will now change and they will come to our country to play cricket,” he said.
Junaid was one of the star performers in the final where he bowled a spell of 1/20 in six overs. Pakistan started as the underdogs and many did give them any chance. However, the combined batting and bowling show made everyone swallow their words, as they ended up winning the finals easily.
“The team had no pressure whatsoever while playing against India in the big final. The loss to India in the group game had saddened the whole team and our fans too. Therefore, we started the final with just one goal: victory. We played like a team and every member delivered his best in the final,” Commenting on the final, Junaid said.
Junaid has also secured the NOC to play County cricket. He will be departing to England after the Eid-ul – Fitr.
Mohammad Hafeez also was left overwhelmed by the welcome he received in Lahore. The right-handed batsman played a crucial role batting in the middle order. After coming in to bat at No.5, Hafeez hammered an unbeaten 37-ball 57 which propelled Pakistan to 338-4 off their 50 overs after the century from Fakhar Zaman.
The 36-year-old had his family, friends and fans were ready to receive him at the Allama Iqbal International Airport. The slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Professor Zindabad’ echoed the area as soon as he arrived.