The Good, the Great, and the Best of 2022!

The year 2022 was one which proved joyous and full of achievements in the field of sports and entertainment. 

Each year comes and goes, but leaves behind sweet, bitter, and unforgettable memories. Those who end up with less forgettable and more unforgettable memories are the ones who are the real winners at the end of the calendar year, and Pakistanis must consider them in that category. First of all, our Cricket team played better than many teams in the region all year long; secondly, our athletes made the country proud despite not having the best facilities and finally, we had a film on our hands which managed to break more records than any other film in the country’s history. How many countries in the world can boast of such a record at the end of the year? None. Let’s celebrate the past year as we move into a fresh one, hoping that better things will happen during the next 12 months so that we have more sweet memories and fewer bitter ones. Read on:
The Year When Australia, England, and New Zealand Toured Pakistan!
The year began on a high note for Pakistan which hosted the seventh edition of the Pakistan Super League at home and impressed all those–including players, commentators, and officials–with the arrangements, security, and coverage. Between January 27 and February 27, top-class domestic and international cricketers battled between themselves for the coveted trophy that landed in the hands of the best team of the tournament–Lahore Qalandars.
After that, Australia visited Pakistan for the first time since 1998 and played three Tests, three One-Day Internationals (ODIs), and a one-off T20I, winning the Benaud-Qadir trophy for the Test series and the T20I series 1-0, and losing the ODI series 2-1. It was a well-contested series where despite tough pitches, Australia was able to win their first Test series in Asia since 2011, and their first Test win in Asia since 2017. In the ODI series, Babar Azam's consecutive centuries helped Pakistan beat Australia for the first time in an ODI series since June 2002.
The Sri Lankan women's cricket team then toured the country in May and played three WODIs and three WT20Is during their stay. Pakistan's women's team won the WT20I series 3-0 and the WODIs 2-1 and showed the world that they had improved a lot during the last year.
The West Indian Cricket team came next in early June and played the remaining three ODIs that were supposed to take place in December 2021, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 strike on the West Indian team. All the matches were played at Multan Cricket Stadium which Pakistan won by the margin of 3-0.
Pakistan Cricket team then spent the month of July in a politically-charged Sri Lanka and played just two Test matches and scrapped the three ODIs due to unrest in the region. However, that didn't stop both teams from delivering their best performance and leveling the series 1-1.
Pakistan's luck was different in the Netherlands where the green shirts emerged victorious in the bilateral one-day series. Although two of the three ODIs were contested closely, Pakistan managed to win the series 3-0. Luck was however on England's side when the Jos Buttler-led side visited Pakistan ahead of the T20 World Cup. England was led by Moeen Ali who deputized for his skipper and took the series 4-3, although in one of the matches, Pakistani openers repeated the heroics of last year by winning the match with ten wickets.
Pakistan then participated in the Asia Cup tournament, which was played in the United Arab Emirates, since the original host, Sri Lanka, was unable to host it due to their economic situation. The green shirts once again led by Babar Azam managed to beat India in the Super Four stage and qualify for the final, where the host, Sri Lanka, played better Cricket to emerge victorious.
However, Pakistan had better luck in New Zealand where they won the tri-series in October, also featuring Bangladesh. That event gave Pakistan the confidence to feel high ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia, where they once again reached the final, but lost to Jos Buttler's English side in the final.
Despite losing two back-to-back finals at the international level, Pakistan managed to successfully host the first-ever Junior Cricket League in the world in October and gave the world a number of players who would go on to do well once they reach the international level. Youngsters from all over the world participated in this PSL-style league and one hopes that the board will continue this tradition every year.
Near the end of the year, Ireland’s women's cricket team came to Pakistan and not only won the WT20I series 2-1, but was won over by the country’s hospitality. The hosts did clinch the WODIs 3-0, but this tour convinced the English side to visit Pakistan for the first time for a Test series in 17 years and play without the fear of security threats, which they did.
Before the year ended with New Zealand’s arrival for a Test and ODI series, the Pakistan Cricket team was whitewashed at home for the first time by any touring team. It took the might of ‘Bazball’ and the combination of Captain Ben Stokes and Coach Brendon McCullum that saw Pakistan go down by the brilliance of the mightiest Test team at the moment.
Pakistan Found New Heroes in the International Arena in 2022!
Cricket wasn’t the only sport where Pakistan excelled at the international level. The year 2022 was the year of the Commonwealth Games where after a long time, Pakistan managed to win as many as seven medals including two Gold. One of those medals came in the athletics discipline where Javelin thrower, Arshad Nadeem became the first South Asian to throw the javelin past the 90-meter mark. He did so in his fifth attempt at the event, surpassing Grenadian athlete, Anderson Peters' attempt of 88.64 in the same competition, winning a gold medal for the country.
Arshad Nadeem’s gold medal was Pakistan's first athletics gold at the Commonwealth Games since 1962, and while he broke a sixty-year-old record, weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt won the other one. The youngster won the men's +109 kg weightlifting event by lifting 173 kg in the snatch category, and 232 kg in clean and jerk, both Commonwealth Games records for a combined 405 kg.
Apart from these two, wrestlers Muhammad Inam, Zaman Anwar, and Sharif Tahir won the silver medal for the country while Judoka Shah Hussain Shah and wrestler Inayat Ullah helped Pakistan gain a bronze medal at the event. Due to these splendid athletes, Pakistan managed to end the event in the top 20, something they haven't been able to do since 2010.
As for the once mighty Pakistan hockey team, the biggest achievement of the year came in the form of the third position at the Sultan Azlan Shah event, where they reached the podium for the first time since 2014 when they ended up as runners-up. Since then, they missed the event four times which makes their return more than just another medal this time around.
2022–The Year of Maula Jatt’s Return!
Let’s talk about films for a change, where Pakistan achieved a lot more than it did in the last five years combined. This was the year when Pakistan’s most expensive film, The Legend of Maula Jatt was released and managed to cross Rs. 250 crores worldwide, and Rs. 100 crores at home in the first three months. The magnitude of this success can be judged from the fact that none of the films from Pakistan in over 70 years was able to even touch Rs. 75 crores worldwide, let alone Rs. 100 crores and TLMJ managed to break all that with its might.

Why was The Legend of Maula Jatt the most successful film of all time, you might ask? Well, for once it was made to entertain the audience, not to just satisfy the filmmaker’s ego, and secondly, the director executed the script like a film, making all those projects that came before it relegates to second-class ventures. Every actor was chosen perfectly for their characters and the language wasn’t hard to understand, giving the character of Maula Jatt the universal feel it deserved. Despite having no songs and too much violence, it catered to all kinds of audiences during its run in the cinemas and is likely to stay in business until the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr, when another Fawad Khan venture Money Back Guarantee will come out.
The Legend of Maula Jatt wasn’t the only successful film at the box office as well, Humayun Saeed’s home production London Nahi Jaunga and Fahad Mustafa-starrer Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad also crossed Rs. 30 crore mark, and Rs. 16 crore mark at the local box office, and made Rs. 55 crore and Rs. 42 crores at the worldwide box office respectively.
Before these two films were released on Eid-ul-Azha, it was Saba Qamar and Zahid Ahmed’s Ghabrana Nahi Hai which made the audience visit cinemas during the two Eids. Released on Eid-ul-Fitr, it managed to cross Rs. 15 crores at the worldwide box office, which was a huge thing considering it was the first Eid release to do so in three years. It also ended its run as the most successful amongst the four Eid-ul-Fitr films and helped relaunch the film career of Saba Qamar, as well as launch Zahid Ahmed and Syed Jibran as leading actors.
Talking of Saba Qamar in 2022 leads you to Sarmad Khoosat’s psychological thriller Kamli where the talented actress was in full form, alongside Sania Saeed and Nimra Bucha. The movie was released within a month of Ghabrana Nahi Hai, but despite ‘two-much’, Saba Qamar managed to garner praise from all quarters. Its story revolved around three different women with different issues in their lives, and while they are connected with each other at some levels, so are their problems.
And then there was Joyland, the first-ever Pakistani film to be screened at Cannes, to be given a standing ovation at Cannes, and also to win the Un Certain Regard Jury prize at the prestigious event. The Queer Palm award was also presented to the film because it tackled a taboo subject in Pakistan, and its director Saim Sadiq was appreciated for thinking outside the box. Not only did the film wow the audience in the French City, but it also won the Best Film from the Subcontinent Award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne as well as the Young Cinema Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards for its director besides being nominated for the Best International Film at the Independent Spirit Awards.
The film was also screened at home and despite being banned in Punjab province, it managed to make the audience teary-eyed in the rest of the country and is helping Pakistan carve a separate identity for itself on the world stage. Another film that wanted to do the same thing–Carma–was unable to do so because of its dodgy editing and release during the Cricket World Cup, otherwise, it followed the Quentin Tarantino school of filmmaking and would have made a huge difference, more than it already did with its release.
The year will also be remembered for the emergence of Pakistani stars at the international level. Through Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, multiple Pakistani actors including Fawad Khan, Mehwish Hayat, Nimra Bucha, Samina Ahmed, and Vardah Aziz were able to appear in an international project, and ace it because of their brilliance. One must commend Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who directed a couple of episodes of the series and added the missing Pakistani touch to a project that by the end of the year featured in the best series of the year.

The writer is a freelance journalist who regularly contributes to various renowned publications.
E-mail: [email protected]

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