Friday, September 24, 2010

KANK

Imran Khan is the greatest cricketer I have ever seen. Mind you, I have seen the likes of Gavaskar, Richards, Botham, Marshall, Akram, Tendulkar, Lara, Ambrose, Warne, McGrath and Muralitharan, and still there is not a flicker of doubt in my mind that none of them was ever greater than The Pathan.

Sheer numbers put him head and shoulders above the rest. 3,807 runs @ 37.69 and 362 wickets @ 22.81 from 88 tests are not numbers you dare to mess with. As a captain those numbers become 2,408 runs @ 52.34 and 187 wickets @ 20.23 in 48 tests. In the 26 tests that Pakistan has won, he had scored 900 runs @ 36 and has taken 155 wickets @ 14.50 (no, this is not a typo). In addition, he averages less than 20 with the ball against and in every country that he has bowled.

And that wasn't all, either. On field he stood well above anyone else in terms of sheer aura. It wasn't just that he was the best - he looked every bit of it; the others, some of them legends of the game, never had that imposing authority over the field the moment they set foot on it. No one matched his presence on the field; whatever he did on the ground, right from measuring his run-up to having a routine gulp of water from a bottle, he seemed the undisputed king on the ground. The only person who possibly came close to match him in flair was Viv, and even he came a second when Imran's authority on the ground was in question.

My favourite Imran memory, however, goes back to the 1987 Reliance World Cup semifinal at Lahore. Like Gavaskar, Imran too had announced that he would retire after the tournament (it's another story that their President had convinced him to break his resolution, come back and lead his country to one of the greatest test series ever, in West Indies next year; and lead his country to victories in the 1989 Nehru Cup and the jewel in the crown, the 1992 World Cup).

Imran didn't really disgrace himself as Pakistan fielded, taking 3/36 as Australia amassed 267/8 (mind you, he finished the tournament with 17 wickets from 7 matches, just one short of McDermott's tally of 18 from 8). Australia struck back, and soon Pakistan was reeling at 25/3 as Imran joined Miandad. The two added 112 runs, and despite some lusty slogging by the lower middle-order, Pakistan fell 18 runs short.

As Imran was trying to put up a valiant effort, there seemed to be some sort of female chorus going on in the gallery, packed to capacity. They were chanting something; and despite Doordarshan's lion-hearted efforts to provide us with pathetic picture and sound I realised that it was a catchy tune: at the age of ten my Chitrahaar-dependent song database wasn't good enough to recognise it. My parents knew the song, though. 23 years later I do, as well, and whenever I listen to the song, the Lahore girls come to my mind, and those freaking goosebumps just keep coming:

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What did I mean, whenever I listen to? I'm getting goosebumps even as I'm writing this! They have stopped making his kind ages back.

3 comments:

  1. I can remember the 1992 world cup final and I was in dilemma on which team to support. Somebody convinced me to support Pakistan. I don't remember clearly why I supported Pakistan but now I feel Imran-Wasim duo could be a reason.
    Well, I am waiting on Rahul Dravid to retire from test cricket and the day he retires I will play this Bappi da number and I am pretty sure that I'll get goosebumps.

    Thanks for the post.

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  2. Brought back a memory:As giggling teenagers going to meet Imran in Oberoi Sheraton -Delhi.10 of us standing in front of the legend,vying for his autograph.None of us really understood cricket(never have)but the sheer masculine aura was enough to bowl us over.He chatted with us for few minutes (oh!yes autographs with individual name)before joining his teammates by the pool. What a man!

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