QUETTA: The words ‘Pak will win’ float above the head of Pakistani cricket captain Babar Azam, his face frozen in a soft grin.
Slightly above left shoulder of the only cricketer in the top-5 of the ICC rankings in all formats levitates the T20 World Cup trophy.
This is a sand portrait of the Pakistani captain, made on Gadani Beach in Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province by a group of six sand artists earlier this week as a tribute to the Pakistan team which faces New Zealand today, Wednesday, in a semifinal game of the ICC T20 World Cup.
Rashidi Artists Gaddani, as the group likes to call itself, wants Pakistan to bring the cup back home.
“We wanted to pay our tribute to the Pakistani cricket team before they play the semifinal in Australia,” Sameer Shoukat, a 19-year-old beach artist from Balochistan, told Arab News.
“And by making Babar Azam’s sketch at Gadani Beach, we have shown that people of Balochistan are supporting the Pakistani cricket captain.”
Azam, regarded as one of the finest batters in international cricket today, will have his hands full against a dangerous New Zealand side that comprises quality players such as Trent Boult, Kane Williamson, Finn Allen, Tim Southee and others.
Pakistan breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday when the Netherlands, against all odds, beat mighty South Africa by 13 runs to give Pakistan a chance. The green shirts capitalized on the opportunity to beat Bangladesh and finish among the top two contenders of Group 2, for the semifinal stage of the cup.
Shoukat said the Rashidi Artists Gaddani wanted to boost the team’s morale ahead of the semifinal by writing the words “Pak will win” on its sand portrait.
“We are very much optimistic that our team will bring the trophy home,” he said.
The group has been making beach sketches for the last two years, in which period it has made over a hundred sketches of various sports celebrities, politicians and other artists. Last week, Rashidi Artists drew a sand portrait of former Indian skipper Virat Kohli, which went viral on social media and even caught Pakistani fast bowler Shahnawaz Dahani’s attention.
The Pakistani bowler wrote to the artists on Twitter, telling them that he showed the sketch to Kohli, who was “very happy and he really loved it.”
Muhammad Kabir, who has been drawing sand sketches with Rashidi Artists for the last year and a half, said the group, despite limited resources, had been drawing sand sketches to convey a singular message: that the people of Balochistan love sports.
Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province has been wracked by insurgencies launched by separatist groups for several decades. The province, the largest in the country by area, has seen little infrastructural development and hasn’t produced many cricket greats over the years.
“We have been making large sketches with locally made tools, but now we have been receiving huge appreciation on social media for our work and getting orders from people who want their sandy sketches at Gadani Beach,” Kabir told Arab News.
While the T20 World Cup will come to an end on Sunday, November 13, after the final match, the Rashidi Artists said they would move on to drawing sketches of international football stars as the world is gripped with FIFA World Cup 2022 mania, scheduled to kick off in Qatar on November 20.