In 1980 when West Indies were touring Pakistan stories were told that a visiting batsman found the captain of the Pakistan team Imran Khan bent the red cherry like a banana. The bemused batsman thought to complain about this to the umpire. But he didn’t do it. In the next delivery, the herculean fast bowler bent the ball again as the pitch was offering seam and swing to the legendary all-rounder. This time the batsman didn’t get an opportunity to complain as Imran gave Pakistan a breakthrough.
Imran Khan, the innovator of the banana swing, had to face the wrath of western media as they were not aware of this fascinating swing, a sharp weapon for a fast bowler. Pakistani fast bowlers are first bowling department to use the banana swing as a weapon. In the 1992 World Cup final Wasim Akram had shown the world how beautiful could be the banana swing. Imran Khan and his fast bowling partner Sarfraz Nawaz innovated this in an unruly country which is proud of their achievement in cricket.
Fast bowlers from other countries were not even aware of this bowling weapon. They needed time to adapt the style of bowling.
Imran Khan was a leader of his team and a visionary man. He had the power to change the condition of a dressing room. In 1992 World Cup Pakistan team were not even a position to win the series. They lost to India and South Africa, but it was Imran Khan’s famous ‘wounded tiger’ speech which changed the mindset of Pakistan team.
The legendary all-rounder retired in 1992, but even the young Pakistani cricketers admit that if they go to Imran with a negative mindset then they would come back as a different man.
The phenomenon called Imran Khan led a team which dominated the world with an outstanding pace battery comprised of Sarfaraz Nawaz, Aqib Javed, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.
With great bowler, Pakistan also won many matches due to poor umpiring as. At home Pakistani umpire used to think that they were part of the national team so it is their job to help Pakistan win the match.
Once, legendary Australian captain Allan Border’s awful reply to Imran Khan stunned every cricket fan. Those were days when West Indies used to dominate the world cricket in the eighties in world cricket. Alongside West Indies a subtle Pakistani team, full of match winners, was also a tough team to beat.
So before a series between Australia and Pakistan Imran Khan met Australian captain Allan Border met at the Sydney café in an informal meeting. The flamboyant Imran Khan told Border, “AB, give me Sunil Gavaskar and B.S.Chandra Shekhar from India, we will beat Australia.” Sunil Gavaskar was a legendary Indian batsman who dominated West Indies bowler in West Indies without a helmet. In Australia, Gavaskar has had an outstanding batting average of 51.
B.S. Chandrasekhar, a legendary Indian spinner, was also known for his wicket taking abilities. Chandrashekhar has played 58 Test matches for India and took 242 wickets at a whopping average of 29. 74. But, in reply to Imran what Border said stunned everyone. Border said, “Imran, just give me two Umpires from Pakistan and we will beat the whole world.”
Border’s reply left Imran speechless.
Later Imran Khan complained to Cricket Australia about this. Coming under pressure Border, the 1987 World Cup winning captain, had to tender apologies to Imran Khan and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Imran Khan has played 88 Test matches for Pakistan and took 362 wickets while with the bat in hand he scored 3807 runs at an average of 37.69. In ODI cricket he has scalped 182 wickets in 175 matches and scored 3709 runs at an average of 33.41.