Karachi: The Asian Games gold-winning Pakistan women`s cricket team returned home from China to a rousing reception from the fans at the Karachi airport.
The players, attired in the Pakistan green blazer, landed in Karachi late last night and hundreds of people, including their families and friends, turned up to welcome them.
They were garlanded, showered with rose petals and greeted with slogans of "Zindabad" and "Chak de Pakistan" as the cricketers came out of the airport terminal building. Young boys and girls danced to popular numbers to celebrate the gold medal.
The gold won by the women`s team after beating Bangladesh in the final by 10 wickets was the first yellow metal for Pakistan in the Asian Games since boxer Mehrullah Lassi`s feat in the 2002 edition.
Team captain Sana Mir told the waiting media that she was astonished by the rousing welcome given to the team.
"We were happy at winning the gold medal for the country but we can`t express our feelings at the way the people have welcomed us, it is something out of this world for us," she said.
Sana, who has been playing for Pakistan for the last five years, said the absence of India and Sri Lanka from the Asian Games cricket event was a dampener but with the way the team had played with passion, she was sure they could have upset the both the higher ranked sides.
"Our victory is the result of excellent team work and even before we reached China we knew that with India not in the tournament we stood a very good chance of winning the gold medal," she said.
Javaria Wadood, who scored 39 in the final to set up the victory, hoped that the Asian Games victory would go a long way in boosting women`s cricket in the country.
"Our performance shows that if women are given a proper chance and facilities and encouraged by their families and authorities they can achieve a lot like the women of other countries," a beaming Wadood said.
Coach Mansoor Rana said that the international exposure the girls had gained by playing in ICC events and against top oppositions in the last two years had helped them improve steadily and the results showed in the Asian Games.
"They just need more exposure and matches and in the next five years they can be among the top three or five nations in the world," Rana said.
The manager of the Pakistan men`s national team, Intikhab Alam told a news channel from Abu Dhabi that he was impressed by the performance of the women`s side in the Asian Games.
"Such performances make you want to work with them and help them further improve," Alam said.