For the usually apolitical upwardly mobile urban youth that made up the crowds at cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rallies, the fact that their “chairman” did not become Premier was so big a disappointment that they forgot to celebrate the party’s performance at the hustings — its best in 17 years.

Though no serious analyst thought Mr. Imran Khan stood a chance, his support base was convinced that he would do the impossible — just like he did when he led Pakistan to a cricket World Cup victory and when he built a state-of-the-art cancer hospital on his personal initiative.

Hence, for his base, the 30-odd National Assembly seats and the tag of the “single largest party” in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were poor consolations.

Mr. Khan himself could not hide his disappointment when he addressed the media from his hospital bed — to which he has been confined since his fall last week.

He did not congratulate the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), instead dwelling on the impressive turnout and congratulating the people for participating in the democratic exercise. In particular, he was pleased that the sections earlier indifferent to elections had cast their votes.

With Mr. Khan alleging rigging — resulting in protests by the party in some cities — and his supporters bad-mouthing anyone critical of the PTI and its politics on the social media, former Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani tweeted: “It seems the one-day and 20-20 generation doesn’t understand the concept of a test match or test series.”