Pakistan's marathon tour of England has started on a positive note. Even though the wins have come against depleted county teams, they have provided Afridi's men with the momentum they required to get into match winning mode before the real games begin.
Winning is a habit and so is losing; Pakistan has for a long time been at the losing end. Going all the way back to the controversy hit tour to Australia, Pakistan have won very little.
Considering this, the 3 T20 wins against MCC, Essex, and Northamptonshire and the draw against Kent, in which many of the batsmen hit form was just the tonic Pakistan required to be in a positive frame of mind for this tour.
It is such a long tour that it can make or break many careers over the next 3 months. With 6 test matches, 5 ODIs, and 4 T20s, Pakistan face a stern test from Australia and England, both of whom are arguably amongst the top three sides in world cricket today across all formats.
Even though its been dictated by politics, Pakistan have taken a huge gamble by leaving out experienced players like Younis Khan, Misbah, and Faisal Iqbal from both the T20 and the test squads.
With new players in the middle under a new captain, the test is even sterner for the young team.
Their first real test comes today when they face Australia in the first of two T20s.
Pakistan has lost the last 12 international matches against them with the last one being the epic semi final of the World T20.
The Aussies definitely have the edge, but Pakistan should feel at home in a T20 game. They have a better record in the format despite the recent losses, and majority of their players are better suited to this version of cricket.
A win can go a long way in providing Pakistan with the confidence they require to compete against the Aussies in the 2 tests that will follow the T20s.
Losses, on the other hand, can be way too detrimental.
Pakistan is expected to field at least two debutants in their middle order for the test matches. While Shahid Afridi will return to the format after 4 years. This indicates how fragile Pakistan's top 6 will be against the likes of Johnson and Co. when the first test gets underway in about a week.
In light of this, it is imperative that the likes of Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, and the Akmal brothers get some runs under their belts during the two T20s against the Aussies.
Wins and runs for these batsmen will enable Pakistan to go into the test matches with confidence.
Afridi has repeatedly spoken about playing positive and aggressive cricket, and I guess that is the only way Pakistan stands a chance against Australia and England over the summer.
Pakistan will do well if they draw a few of the tests and win some of the ODIs and T20s. Series wins in ODIs and T20s will even be better but they cannot be expected at this stage.
Pakistani fans are generally irrational and expect miracles every time the team steps on the playing field.
I urge all fans not to expect much and just support the team. Its a young team under a new captain; the selectors and the team management have made a bold move by leaving senior players out and blooding several new youngsters.
The seniors were not bringing in the results and we all complained. And now we cannot expect the youngsters to turn things around immediately.
It will take time and Pakistan have initiated this turnaround process at just about the right time keeping the World Cup in mind.
And for the World Cup, it is extremely important if Afridi is at the helm, which will only be possible if the PCB, media, and the fans don't go ballistic over the team losing to the likes of Australia and England.
The journey begins today and we can only support and hope for a fairy tale ending.