March 25th, 1992, the day when the whole world came to know about the heroics of famous Mr. Imran Khan Niazi. That year for Pakistan was full of euphoria and tragedy, the Cricket World Cup Finals won at Melbourne Australia and the havoc of torrential rains in Northern Pakistan which caused river Indus to swell and kill 1000 displacing 3 million. Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister then, it’s funny how we can re-read history and see how time & events had looked into the future already. Let’s not get political here, the grand stage has been set for a man who fought against the odds and rose like a phoenix from the ashes. This man we talking about needs no introduction, he has been a talisman, a role model for so many especially youth, someone who has always advocated about being fair and empathetic just the way he was on a cricket field.
In Pakistan Imran was more than a hero, there were folk songs about him sung at marriage ceremonies, old men would glue the radio sets to their ears when he would bat or bowl. The younger ones would impersonate him, the same hairdo same bowling action and even young girls would keep posters of him in their rooms. He was this magnificence to the people, everyone was in so love with him.
As they say, roses have thorns too! Everything was not glittery in Khan’s life, there were some ugly chapters too. His meticulously crafted image was shattered in a single minute when in 1994 while unveiling his autobiography (sub-titled ‘Imran’s Inheritors’), Khan admitted that he lifted the seam during Test matches and tampered with the ball using a bottle top once during a county game between Sussex and Hampshire in 1991. But this was not the end, one more cataclysm was waiting for him. Later, in 1996, English cricketers Ian Botham and Alan Lamb sued him for calling them “racist”. But as usual, the charismatic Khan made a comeback and that too against the arduous opposition. He won the contentious libel case in the London courts. There’s something about him, he perfectly knows how to make comebacks from ostensibly dreadful situations.
As a cricketer, the kind of personality he carried was immaculate and next to perfect. Who would have thought that a guy from nowhere would bring such an honour to a small country like Pakistan? Regardless of the troubles, he had to go through he stayed put and never gave up, the same way when he never gave up on his team of 11 players. This time he had the whole nation behind him.
Usually, people give up so easy on defeats, he lost the first election he tried but never gave up which only helped him win over the whole country with a clear mandate. The cricket family must all be proud of the man Imran Khan has been. For him, he must be living the dream life one would ever dream about.
Imran has always been a pioneer of sportsmanship, now as he takes the charge of a diverse country with 200 million people behind him. We hope he carried forward the legend he has been living so far, the Imran Khan we knew from the cricket field. The one who wore a T-shirt which said “Cornered Tigers” on the very day when we had thought it was the end of the campaign for Pakistan. But he turned it upside down and did what was only a miracle. The hospital which he built was only a far dream to him and others who never lost hope in him. To Imran, we wish luck from the other side of the field. May he shine and bring his Country to excellence and development. He rightly had put it a few years back: “It is not defeat that destroys you, it is being demoralized by the defeat that destroys you”.
By Omar Bazaz
Travel & Sports Writer: @omarbazaz
Omar Bazaz is an adventure junkie and a storyteller. He contributes as a travel columnist for FPK (Free Press Kashmir) and Wande Magazine where he shares his real-life travel experiences. His witty, punchy and illuminating stories, be it for sports or unexplored places, attract sports and non-sports fans alike.