In just over two years since his international debut, on being ranked the ICC’s No.1 T20 bowler, left-arm spinning all-rounder Imad Wasim has mightily lofted his cricketing footprints into the sands of time.
The Champions Trophy win, followed by Eid spent at home with his family, soon became a triple celebration. He realised he was top of the rankings when he began to receive fan notifications on Twitter. Up until that point though, his expectations were realistic, thus he does not appear to have been carried away by this accomplishment. “I thought I would have a chance at the No.1 ranking only after the Sri Lanka series in the UAE later this year.”
Were he to be resting on his laurels after reaching this pinnacle of success, it would be understandable. However, in a hard-hitting interview with ARY News, he was asked about former Indian batsman Farokh Engineer as well as a former Pakistan coach saying that because he does not spin the ball much, once a batsman has played him a few times, his bowling will be easy to pick. Imad did not seem surprised by the question and his response was decisive. “I take criticism positively. I agree with some of it but you can see the stats for yourself. I am working on it and will become a better bowler.”
Imad Wasim is often touted as future captain material and his astute responses indicate a penchant for saying the right thing at the right time. Discussing the time-old tradition of bowlers hunting in pairs, he said he does not mind who he is teamed up with.
He is asked, keeping in mind the pitch requirements, does he prefer opening the bowling or being used in the middle overs. “Everything I do, I do for the team. I need to take wickets.”
Nevertheless, a little bit of that hidden fieriness comes through when he says that when he is needed he will not back off, as each requirement from the captain is a challenge. One realizes then what England’s all-rounder Ben Stokes and bowler Liam Plunkett were facing during those heated altercations.
When Imad is reminded that teenage leg-spinner Shadab Khan made his Test debut in the same series as his international T20 debut but he himself has yet to play the most prized format of all, he smiles. If he is stonewalled by the question, he does not show it and his response is pragmatic. “Ask the selectors, I am available, whenever the captain trusts me, I am ready to play.”
Throughout the interview, what stands out is his unshakeable self-belief. Aiming to weave a web around him, we mentioned the fact that his former Karachi Kings teammate Shakib Al Hasan is the No.1 all-rounder in all three formats. Imad has been talking about improving his batting in the last few months but there has been no significant continuity in his run-scoring, so what is he doing to better things? If he was ruffled by the query, again, he did not show it. “I am the No.15 ODI all-rounder, I hope to make the Top 10 in the next year, then the Top 5 and sooner rather than later, if not No.1, then close.”
Having given him a tough time during the interview, we left the last word to him. During the Champions Trophy, unlike former T20 captain Mohammed Hafeez, Imad had made clear he does not agree with the unpredictable tag that has latched onto the squad. Since expectations are now high, how would he like the team to be viewed in the coming months? “Passionate. Fighters.”
Most Imad Wasim fans would say these two attributes describe him best too. He may well leave more of a cricketing legacy in the coming years.