After the most amazing time in Lahore and Rawalpindi and one of the most enthralling test matches I have ever witnessed we left Rawalpindi for some sightseeing in Islamabad.
At Islamabad we visited a museum full of interesting artefacts and images of the changes in Pakistan over the years. It happened to be full of children on a school day out and looking for a selfie with us once again. Islamabad was divided into sectors -city and greenbelt. In early afternoon we left for Faisalabad on a four hour journey. We began to notice how diverse Pakistan is. The countryside is spectacular with amazing scenery and mountains reminiscent of the garden route in South Africa. The towns are very mixed, some dusty, some very smoggy, lots of rubbish on the roads and around the city. Some of the roads are great to drive on where others need re surfacing. The local shops all appear to have just one cable with light bulbs hanging from it, the shops are very different from ours of course- some are colourful – others have goats in them, some are open takeaways with huge pots and pans of something delicious looking in them. There are carts full of fruit and vegetables, beautifully displayed by some. It’s a shame that more of local businesses don’t have the same pride in presentation of their wares.
We arrived in Faisalabad at the Serena hotel for one night. Three of us decided to go for a walk to the Iqbal stadium where the Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana incident took place. It didn’t help political ties between the two countries at the time but they were delighted we visited and we were shown the dressing room where a photo of Intikhab Alam was hanging who just happened to play for Surrey in the days I started following them.
After leaving the ground we went back to the hotel where two of us decided to venture to an adjoining cricket ground , the Bohran Wali, where there was a T20 in progress. The commentator gave us a huge welcome as did everyone. There must of been a hundred supporters there if not more. We were introduced to members of both teams and the scorers and officials from the PCB. The match was a part of a league consisting of twenty teams from all over Pakistan. It was most certainly a highlight of the tour for us, we were like royalty! They offered us food and drink then to complete the afternoon’s entertainment I was asked to present the man of the match award and was interviewed which again came with several photographs – another great experience.
In the morning we left Faisalabad for Multan where apparently the security has been stepped up from 7,000 in Rawalpindi to 18,000 in Multan. When you think that apart from the team there were probably only a hundred of us in Multan it tells a story. After seventeen years in exile with no visiting teams they were very keen for the tour to run smoothly.
We arrived at the cricket ground on the first day and once again with a police escort and straight away police presence was very noticeable. As soon as we entered the ground we were being asked for selfies, but not just the civilians also the police! The toss once again was won by England who elected to bat. England went about it the same way as they have done since Ben was appointed as captain but unlike the first test there was something in the wicket for the bowlers. England posted 281. Pakistan went into bat after being in an extremely strong position but they fell apart loosing 8 wickets for 60 leaving England with a lead of 79 runs. With three day’s left in the game England’s approach didn’t change, even when loosing wickets regularly I thought a lead of 350 should had been enough. A brilliant batting performance by Shakeel who seemed to be the only batsman playing sensibly with the time left in the game, he eventually fell on 94, and once again Pakistan crumbled loosing 5 wickets for 38 to give England an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. Another historic win and yet another great test match which could had been won by either side.
With the test finishing early we went on another sightseeing tour, we first went to Uch Sharif an historic city in the southern part of Punjab. 16 Sufi mausoleums and sacred buildings that compose the Uch Monument Complex were commissioned by powerful Mughal elite in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The town was founded by Alexandra the great and is where you will find where the tomb of Bibi Jawindi from 1493, also Nuryia & Baha al’ Halim.
We then went on to Derawar Fort situated in Ahmadpur East Tehsil, on the edge of the desert. The walls have a perimeter of 1500 metres and 30 metres high. We then had a ride on a camel, the girth wasn’t that tight, I thought we were going out the side door but a great experience. We also visited the Abbasi Royal Graveyard which contains all the graves of all the Nawabs that ruled the Bahwalpur state from 1723 to 1955
Next stop Karachi.
All the best