Pakistani Legends—A Tale of Unhappy Endings
Happy ending is something that you don’t associate with Pakistani cricketing legends. Pakistan cricket has an extremely rich history, but, you hardly find a single hero standing tall, which is Imran Khan, who left the cricket field with a World Cup win for his nation. Apart from him, do you remember any cricketer who has been lifted by his teammates on their shoulders like Mahela, Sangakkara, Sachin or any other? Pakistani legends usually don’t leave the field with a smile and even with respect. Pakistani T20 skipper, Shahid Afridi will feature for the last time in an international game against Australia on 26th March. Boom Boom Afridi is a different sort of Pakistani legend, but, he is likely to have a similar kind of end to his career, a disheartening one! Here are some Pakistani gems who weren’t thanked at the end.
Javed Miandad is arguably the best batsman to be produced by Pakistan. A cricketer that started his journey as a teenager revolutionized international cricket with his cunning street smartness and steered Pakistan to a number of wowing victories. Who can forget his last ball six to Chetan Sharma that inspired a generation to pick up a bat and head towards cricket fields. He was instrumental in making Pakistan World Champions in 1992. But, Javed Miandad had to quit international cricket with teary eyes after losing the quarter final against India in 1996 World Cup. He was dropped from the scene afterwards.
Waseem Akram and Waqar Younis were considered to be the most destructive duo of fast bowlers. The pair, who was known as “Two W’s”, was capable to destroy any team any day irrespective of the wicket and playing conditions. The duo was one of the biggest factors of Pakistan’s terror in the international cricket during the span of 90’s. The rifts between the two were no secret, but, the competition between them was a healthy one and their team was the beneficiary of it. But, who remembers the last game of Wasim or Waqar? Surprisingly, the “Two W’s” played their last game together against the minnows Zimbabwe and the winner of that game was rain. Fans couldn’t even watch their idols to bowl for the last time. The game was called off when Pakistan was batting. Painful! This is simply a humiliation to those heroes. The most destructive pace duo of all time didn’t get their international farewell game.
Inzamam Ul Haq
A young fighter emerged from the World Cup 1992, his jersey borne the name ‘Haq’ as he progressed in the career, he was nicknamed Inzi. Inzamam ul Haq, a cool and calm character with the bat, a genius in his mind and a powerhouse in himself, was a match winner for Pakistan for a long period of time. Inzamam ended his ODI career on a low despite of beating Zimbabwe convincingly. But, his team was disgraced by Ireland in his second last match in the World Cup 2007 and Bob Woolmer lost the battle of his life just after that. Inzamam left the field wiping his tears, he received the guard of honor by his teammates, but, the embarrassment against Ireland was a huge trauma and his legacy was overshadowed by it.
Shoaib Akhtar said in his pre-prepared retirement speech, “It might seem a little awkward to them (his teammates) as this is the first time in Pakistan that someone is leaving cricket on this note.” Although, Akhtar left cricket on his own terms, but, he craved to play the World Cup 2011 semi final against India. He played his last game against New Zealand in that World Cup, where he was performing well till Kamran Akmal exhibited his talent of dropping sitters as a wicketkeeper. It was Ross Taylor’s birthday and due to Akmal’s inefficient keeping, he went on to score a century and Akhtar was brutally punished by him. Shoaib Akhtar had a bumpy career due to his injuries and off the field affairs, but, he was a world class bowler, who led Pakistan towards glory. Unfortunately, he couldn’t show off his long run-up and his admirers couldn’t roar on his sprint to the crease all the way from boundary for the last time. The Rawalpindi Express came to a halt silently with wet eyes in a press conference.
Muhammad Yousuf was a treat to watch, a player with the textbook technique, smooth through drives and a master in manipulating field. He along with Inzamam and Younis Khan made Pakistan middle order rock solid. Mohammad Yousuf is definitely one of the best batsmen to ever play for Pakistan. He was dropped and had some conflicts with the team management. He went on to play the rebellious Indian Cricket League as he was extremely disappointed with the behavior of selectors and management towards him. Yousuf was written off by selectors, he went in the darkness and eventually disappeared. A man of his standard surely deserved a much better end to his voyage.