Imran to Afridi - "Be positive and do not be afraid of losing" - Interview with Telegraph


Message to Afridi: Be positive and do not be afraid of losing


Chandigarh: The legendary Imran Khan, Pakistan’s only World Cup-winning captain, spoke to The Telegraph the other day.
Now 58, Imran is about to complete 15 years in politics. He heads the Tehreek-e-Insaaf party and is a former member of the National Assembly.

The following are excerpts
Q Did you grow up believing that a match against India was like a war, which simply had to be won?

A Not really... There were no bilateral exchanges at that point and the first time I played against India was on their 1974 tour of England, when I was at Oxford... (Adds smiling) I got a hundred, I think.

Your first Test versus India was in 1978-79 (Faisalabad), during Revival Series I. What are your recollections of that match?

That the wicket was so flat, it was a dead track... Batsmen got hundreds and it was heart-breaking for us bowlers.

But what did that series do?

Definitely encouraged a lot of interest in the game... That series has an important place in the history of our cricket.

You played a number of times against India. What would be your feelings?

I wouldn’t say the tension used to be very high, for we’d play in Sharjah pretty regularly and that helped in defusing much of the tension. The crowds, though, did add to the pressure... That we’d beat India most of the time (in Sharjah) meant that we were under less pressure.

Was the want to win the most against India?

Then (late Seventies and for much of the Eighties), the West Indies were the team to beat... They had a fantastic side and the biggest challenge was to get the better of them... Matches against India were different, because of the passionate involvement of the fans.

The most memorable Test against India...

Definitely in Bangalore, in 1986-87, when we won to go home victorious. To have won after scoring a mere 116 in the first innings was incredible... We’d been the underdogs, but pulled it off.

Would the 1985-86 Austral-Asia Cup final, in Sharjah, be the most memorable ODI?

Perhaps... I’m sure there were other good games as well, but I can’t think of them off-hand.

Besides winning that 1986-87 series in India, would the 1982-83 series at home, when you picked up 40 wickets in six Tests, be the most satisfying?

Yeah... As a bowler, I was then at my peak...

What makes the difference in an Indo-Pak match?

The way pressure is handled.

Shahid Afridi calls you fairly regularly. What did you tell him on the eve of the World Cup?

To be positive and not be afraid of losing... To think of winning and not adopt a strategy driven by the fear of losing.

Your take on Afridi’s captaincy in the World Cup?

He’s been leading by example... Look at the number of wickets (21) that he’s taken.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni...

He’s done well... His real test would be in the semi-final.

If you were still playing and captaining , what would be your strategy in Mohali?

I’d play an extra fast bowler.

Shoaib Akhtar?


[Late on Tuesday, though, this Reporter learnt that Shoaib had a “zero chance” of making the XI.]

Irrespective of what happens in Wednesday’s semi-final, would Pakistan still be seen as winners?

No... Pakistan must beat India and go towards a larger goal.

Nerves apart, what could play a big role?

Dew... Ideally, you’d like to bat first, but if there’s going to be plenty of dew, then you might as well bowl.

The final one... Is the 50-over game now there to stay?

Of course... Look at the interest generated by this World Cup... The World Cup is irreplaceable. (After a pause) People have been talking a lot about T20, but some of its novelty may soon wear off. T20 is exciting, but is too short a game and there’s an element of fluke. It brings in the money, though.

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