Pakistan cricketers returned home to a heroic welcome in four different cities as hundreds of fans thronged the airports, and gathered outside their residences, to celebrate the Champions Trophy triumph.
Pakistan dismantled arch-rivals India by 180 runs – the largest margin of victory in an ICC final. While five of the squad – Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Azhar Ali – stayed back in England, the Player of the Series Hasan Ali stepped out of the Lahore airport and into a red-carpet ceremony arranged by the Punjab government. The 23-year old fast bowler was accompanied by Babar Azam, No. 5 in the ICC ODI rankings for batsmen, allrounder Faheem Ashraf and opener Ahmed Shehzad.
Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s title-winning captain, was received by the mayor of Karachi and the Sindh sports minister, who honoured him with a traditional Sindhi cap and an ajrak [shawl]. An equally poignant reception was waiting for him at his house as well. A horde of people had lined the streets to catch a glimpse of him and when Sarfraz stepped onto the balcony, a huge Pakistan flag hung in front of his home. holding the trophy aloft and roaring “Pakistan”, they responded with “Zindabad”