IMRAN the dashing leader Zindabad! | Sunday Observer

IMRAN the dashing leader Zindabad!

21 February, 2021

To cricket fans of Pakistan, IMRAN KHAN is the STAR that is cuddled by the moon crescent in their flag. No wonder they shouted themselves hoarse when they watched his batting and bowling and then as Captain ‘IMRAN Zindabad’ as they did later as he entered the political turf that he now walks on, and commands.

I recall how Sri Lankan cricket fans watched in awe as this stylish Oxford educated gentleman with a film star look rattled Sri Lanka with his bowling at his peak. He knocked the stuffings off the Sri Lankan batsmen with a wonderful spell of seam and swing bowling.

Imran has a penchant for creating history! History will be created when for the first time an illustrious sportsman and Prime Minister makes a three day visit to Sri Lanka beginning on Tuesday.

Imran will be here on the invitation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government for bilateral talks. But rest assured that no ‘talks’ will be complete without reminisces of the distinction with which he led Pakistan to their first World Cup victory in Australia against England in the final in 1992.

With this victory his popularity soared and he became a hero --and a legend --to all Pakistanis to whom cricket is a religion. During his stay in the game, he was a rare all rounder.

He had a lovely run up and a slight jump at the wicket and the ability to generate pace in the air and off the wicket. He troubled the best of batsmen with his biting swing and pace. And his deliveries were packed with stinging bouncers. He was also a hard hitting right hand batsman and many were the match wining innings he played. He was a thinking captain and was also a safe fielder.

When Sri Lanka attained Test status in 1982 the first tour was to Pakistan for a Three Test series. The writer was the first journalist to accompany the Lankans and cover the three Tests for the ‘Times’ and ‘Daily Mirror’.

Oxford educated IMRAN did not play in the first Two Tests but came back with a vengeance to play the third Test at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. History records how he bowled Pakistan to a resounding victory.

When the writer was with Pakistani journalists Qamar Ahmed and Chisty Mujahid at the Hilton Hotel in Lahore, IMRAN came and spoke to Ahmed and Mujahid who introduced me to this cricketing hero who after a little chat gave us a lift in his vehicle to the Gaddafi Stadium.

He kept talking to me and was very happy that Sri Lanka had finally attained Test status and predicted that Sri Lanka would be worthy opponents and a cricketing power soon. He was very friendly and easy going. Even at the peak of in his career he never sported his plumes and behaved like the cock of the yard.

Being the only Sri Lanka journalist on tour, radio commentators Wasim Tariq and Ahmed invited me to give expert comments on the Test and it was memorable to be on the air when Imran was bowling and comment on his heroics where he rattled the batsmen to give Pakistan a resounding win.

IMRAN bowling at his peak knocked the stuffings off the Sri Lankan batsmen with a wonderful spell of seam and swing bowling to return figures of 8 for 58 and 6 for 58 and no batsmen could counter him.

IMRAN visited Sri Lanka as a promising all rounder and his talent was such that he soon became a cricketing super star much in demand and his country’s captaincy cap did not take long in coming. And he crowned it all by leading Pakistan to win the World Cup in 1992 which has evaded them since. After that victory he was tagged the jewel in the Pakistan cricketing crown.

A Sri Lankan cricketer who will always remember IMRAN is former captain, dashing batsman and the first batsman to score a century in a World Cup final Aravinda de Silva. The reason being that Aravinda hooked a bouncer from IMRAN in a Test in Faisalabad to reach his century which was a rare achievement.

Another achievement to remember where IMRAN was concerned was Sri Lanka’s second victory in Test cricket. It came at the CCC ground when IMRAN led Pakistan and he acknowledged that victory in his chats.

As the Sri Lankan government and cricketing fraternity await the arrival of one of the great legends of the game now turned politician and Prime Minister of Pakistan, there is much reason to felicitate with exceptional warmth.

Joe Root shows how

Joe Root the England captain put on show what could be described as a captain’s knock in the two Tests against Sri Lanka and in the first Test against India he made a double hundred which helped England beat the high riding Indians by 227 runs.

In Sri Lanka he made 228 and 186 and followed it up taking his amazing form to India where up against a very strong Indian attack he scored a masterly double century that was not only eye catching but above all an EXAMPLE.

In making his double hundred against India he became the first visiting captain to make the highest score in India and it was all the more creditable because he was playing his 100th Test which was a feat that will never easily be equaled or surpassed.

When playing in India winning the toss, batting first and putting up a big first innings score is essential, because the wickets are made to be friendly to their spinners.

In the first Test the wicket at the Chennai ground on the first day favoured the batsmen and England who ran up a big first innings score won the match with their spinners Bess and Leach excelling.

Came the second Test and India had the good fortune of batting first and on a wicket that allowed vicious spin from day one, spinners Ashwin and Patel were unplayable and bowled India to an easy win.

With two more Tests to be played the side batting first and putting up a formidable score should win, because the wickets will be made for spinners and India have the better spinners.

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