Omair Alavi|Published December 28, 2019
Illustration by Muhammad Faizan
With the arrival of the year 2020, many things will change, hopefully for the better. Not only will we enter a new year but also another decade, leaving behind an era when a lot of things happened. It will also be the year of the Olympic Games, World T20 as well as the first Pakistan Super League that will be held in Pakistan. Before we discuss what the coming year holds for us besides these events, let’s recap the passing year that will be part of history in a handful of days.
Eights things that made 2019 unforgettable
1. Record-breaking debut century in both ODI and Test by Abid Ali
Good things come to those who wait, and Pakistani Cricketer Abid Ali proved to be the perfect example of this saying. After being ignored for a long time, first by Inzamam ul Haq’s selection panel and later Misbah ul Haq’s selection committee, Abid Ali finally got a chance against Australia in March this year and proved his worth by scoring a century on ODI debut.
After a gap of eight months, he was selected for a Test XI and became the only batsman in the world to score a century on both Tests and ODI debuts. Furthermore, he added another century to his tally in the Karachi Test, becoming the first Pakistani batsman to score consecutive centuries in his first two Test matches.
2. Test cricket returns to Pakistan after 10 years
No cricket team visited Pakistan to play Test cricket after the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in March 2009. However, after a wait of 10 long years, Test cricket finally returned to Pakistan with Sri Lanka playing the first of the two-Test match series in Rawalpindi.
Not only was the stadium houseful on the final day of the Test match, but the crowd also supported centurions Babar Azam and Abid Ali, who went on to repeat the feat in the next Test as well, in Karachi.
The Sri Lankan team’s visit also proves to the world that Pakistan is a safe country for cricket, a statement that will be further strengthened by a full PSL 5 in Pakistan in February 2020.
3. Pakistan wins 32 gold medals in South Asian Games
It was an eventful year for Pakistani sportsmen and sportswomen, who participated in the South Asian Games in Nepal. Pakistan ended the seven-nation event at fourth position with 32 gold, 41 silver and 59 bronze medals in different sports.
Their total tally of medals was 132 and this helped some of the athletes qualify for next year’s Olympic Games where they will try to repeat their heroics and win a medal for Pakistan.
4. Sarfraz Ahmed — the good, the bad and the ugly!
The year 2019 was not an ideal one for Pakistani skipper Sarfraz Ahmed. On the good front, he led Pakistan nearly into the semifinal of the Cricket World Cup where they missed a place in the last four on points.
However, consistent poor performance with the bat and gloves saw him get sacked after Pakistan lost the T20 series at home to Sri Lanka. His weight issues, his huge yawn during a World Cup encounter, as well as his sledging gone wrong in South Africa, did him no favours as well.
5. Donkey King releases in multiple languages, first-ever Pak film to do so
Pakistan may not have produced many animated films but Donkey King, that was released last year, continued its ascent in 2019. The film was released in as many as seven international languages including Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Korean, Ukrainian, Catalan and Basque, besides Urdu.
Not only will it help Pakistan become a force to reckon with in terms of animated flicks, but also encourage others to venture into the world of animation and make something that goes on to conquer the world, like Donkey King is doing.
6. The Avengers: Endgame hysteria and crazy fans
In the last week of April, cinemagoers went crazy as Avengers: Endgame was released all over the world, including Pakistan. Not only were the cinemas full, people went in for repeated viewings and wept uncontrollably after the scene where Iron Man snapped his fingers to signal the end of supervillain Thanos.
For more than two months the film ran successfully in cinemas across Pakistan and helped the cinema industry which has had a bad year because of lack of quality films from local filmmakers.
7. Star Wars, The Mandalorian caps the perfect year
Star Wars — The Rise of Skywalker may have ended the Star Wars saga but it also helped the fans conclude the year with something meaningful. Not only did the story conclude with the latest Star Wars, it helped the audience tie loose ends, and get answers to questions that confused them ever since the franchise made a triumphant return with the seventh episode.
The TV show, The Mandalorian, also entertained the fans of Star Wars with baby Yoda winning the battle of cuteness with any character anywhere in the world.
8. 2019 belonged to Disney and Disney alone
For Disney pictures, the year 2019 was one of the best in recent years. They began the year with Mary Poppins Returns and followed it up with the live-action version of Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King, all of which did well in the cinemas.
They also ended the Toy Story saga with the fourth flick, while the sequels titled Maleficent: The Mistress of Evil and Frozen II enthralled the audience due to their magnificence, and in case of the latter, a fabulous soundtrack.
They were also behind the release of Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, and kept their fans entertained throughout the year.
The year of remakes, reboots and female superheroes
Superhero flicks that will make 2020 super!
Birds of Prey (February 7) will feature Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn who will lead a small group of friends and foes to face off against Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask.
Bloodshot (February 21) will mark Vin Diesel’s entry into the world of Superheroes where he will play an unstoppable super-soldier powered by Nanomachines and suffering from a loss of memory.
Then there is the origin of Black Widow (May 1) where the audience will learn all there is to know about the titular character that has been made popular by Scarlett Johansson and perished in Avengers: Endgame. There is a chance that Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man might make an appearance here, exciting fans of the franchise.
One thing is certain that in Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5), Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince will reunite with her lost love Steve Trevor, despite his apparent death in the first film. She will also battle it out against her arch-nemesis, Cheetah played by Kristen Wiig, and we can’t be more excited.
Last, but not the least, there will be Morbius (July 31) that will feature Jared Leto as the Spider-Man villain who becomes a vampire in a misguided attempt to cure himself of a rare blood disease.
There is also a possibility of Marvel’s Eternals (November 6) where Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani and others will play powerful immortals who help shape humanity and history on Earth.
Kid flicks to change the dynamics
This year he was Iron Man but next year, Robert Downey Jr. will be Dolittle (January 17), a doctor who can converse with animals.
The film will also co-star Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen, with Tom Holland, Marion Cotillard, Selena Gomez, John Cena and Emma Thompson providing voice-overs for some of the animals.
Then there is Sonic the Hedgehog (February 14) where Jim Carrey’s Dr Robotnik will hunt for Sonic, an alien on Earth with super-speed as his biggest asset.
It will be followed by the first adaptation of the popular fantasy book Artemis Fowl (May 29) that will revolve around a young criminal mastermind who kidnaps a fairy in exchange for an evil pixie for his father.
And finally, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Emily Blunt’s Jungle Cruise (July 24) will make Independence Day in America special. This new film is based on a Disney theme park attraction of the same name and hopes to go the Pirates of the Caribbean way.
Bringing old classics back to life
This year, Disney experimented with live-action versions of its classic animated films and in 2020, it plans to add Mulan (March 27) to the list with Yifei Liu in the title role.
The Chinese star will be accompanied on the screen with legendary actors Donnie Yen, Gong Li and Jet Li, which will have a huge impact on the film’s estimated box office result.
Another classic from the 1980s, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (July 10) will make its way to cinemas, under the direction of Jason Reitman, who is the son of the original flick’s director. With Paul Rudd leading the way, this film will bring back the magic of the 1980s, as well as the ghosts from that era.
Animated flicks never disappoint!
With Onward (March 6), Tom Holland, Chris Pratt and Octavia Spencer will take you along on a fantasy adventure in search of real magic, if there is any left.
Then there is Scoob (May 15), where Frank Welker returns as the voice of our favourite Scooby Doo and find out how he met Shaggy and the Mystery Inc. was formed.
One week later, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (May 22) will hit the screens and will feature Keanu Reeves in an undisclosed role, exciting fans of both the franchise and the actor.
Soul (June 19) will feature the vocals of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey and will revolve around a school teacher whose soul gets separated from his body during an accident.
And then there will be the sequels …
Next year, many characters will be making way to the screens for the second time. The first to do so would be Peter Rabbit in Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (April 3) and we are sure that he will be off to no good like the first part.
In Trolls World Tour (April 17), Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake will reunite as Queen Poppy and Branch and will save the world in their own way, musically!
Minions 2 (July 3) will be back to wreak havoc and teaming up with Gru can be a possibility that will make it a box office success.
The Croods 2 (December 23) will reunite Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone who will reprise their roles and help the audience cap the year on a successful note.
A busy year in sports
The year 2020 is just a few days away and it will bring a lot of exciting sports action for fans of cricket, tennis, football and other sports. For the first time in four years, all the matches of Pakistan Super League will be played in Pakistan, and the stadiums will be alive, after a long wait. The tournament’s fifth edition will be played all over the country in February and March 2020, and you can rest assured that every match will have a nail-biting finish.
With the return of Test cricket to Pakistan, cricket fans can be assured of quality matches between Pakistan and other teams such as Bangladesh, South Africa and others. The best teams in the world will then battle it out in Australia, for the coveted World T20 in October and November 2020.
During the rest of the year, Pakistan’s Test and ODI teams will be busy playing against the best sides in the world most notably England in England, and hopefully making progress on ICC Test Championship Table as well as Players’ Ranking in all the formats.
Football fans will also have a busy 12 months; besides the annual grand finale of FA Cup (May 23) at the Wembley Stadium, London, and the UEFA Champions League Final at Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, a week later, there will be the Euro 2020, where Portugal will defend their title against the best sides of Europe.
The tournament will kick off on June 12th and end on 12th July, will feature 24 teams and will be played in 12 different cities across Europe. As soon as the event will end, Copa America will kick off in Argentina and Colombia, where 12 teams will battle for supremacy in nine cities of Argentina and Colombia.
It will be the first time that the event will be played in more than one country since 1983. This year will also mark a huge change in the tournament’s history as it will switch to be held every four years in even-numbered years, with the next edition taking place in Ecuador in 2024.
Tennis fans will stay busy the whole year where not only will all the players in the world battle it out on different surfaces at the Australian Open (in January — February), French Open (May — June), Wimbledon (June — July), and US Open (August — September), but they will also represent their countries in the Olympic Games.
It will surely be Roger Federer’s last chance to win the gold at the Olympics which will be held in July and August next year, in the Japanese Capital, Tokyo.
Talking of the Olympic Games, it will be a grand festival in Tokyo, one that will begin on July 24th and carry on for over three weeks, ending on August 8th.
It will be followed by the Paralympic Games in the same city, later in the same month. A smaller version of Olympics — Asian Beach Games — will take place in Sanya, China, later in November where the best athletes in the world will play for glory and try to cap the year with gold for their country.
Published in Dawn, Young World, December 28th, 2019