Rapturous Pakistan greets its champions

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Ten 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 archrivals 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, all-rounder 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”.
Left-arm seamer Rumman Raees, who was one of three debutants in the tournament, touched down in Karachi as well. Shadab Khan, the 18-year-old leg-spinner, and Imad Wasim, the left-arm-spinning all-rounder, landed in Islamabad before dispersing to their homes in Rawalpindi. Batsman Haris Sohail, who did not get a game in the Champions Trophy, returned to Sialkot.
Fakhar Zaman, who smashed his maiden ODI hundred to be named Player of the Final, was met by his family in Peshawar. He will travel with them to his hometown of Katlang in Mardan. Having hit 50, 57 and 114 in back-to-back knockout matches, he dedicated his success to the Pakistan Navy, who had trained him to become a sailor before he switched careers. (www.cricinfo.com)

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