The captaincy of the Pakistan Super League’s largest franchise, Karachi Kings, is a double-edged sword – on the one hand there awaits accolades galore should the team win the final in its home city, on the other, there lies immense pressure on the shoulders of its new and able captain.
Having opened the bowling for many a Pakistan bilateral series, one is left in no doubt that left-arm all-rounder Imad Wasim can handle pressure astutely. In his appearances on ARY Network’s television screens over the past week, Imad has repeatedly said that this time fans will see a different team. Attempting to pressurise him before his arrival on UAE shores – after all, he should get used to it – he was asked to explain what exactly will be different. His response was such that fans bereft of a win in previous seasons, can now rest their hopes on his ability (in much the same manner as a certain Indian captain) to externalise the pressure aggressively. “We will have more of a fighting spirit, we will try our level best and this time there will be a proper fight.”
During the draft process, a lot of input appeared to come from Team Director Rashid Latif. Given his knowledge of Pakistan and especially Sindh’s domestic system, that came as no surprise but critics would like to know how much of a say the captain had in selection. Imad Wasim’s answer puts all speculation to rest. “We have a group chat in which everything is discussed, everyone involved in management talks, we pick and choose together.”
The equation between the captain and the President of Karachi Kings, Shahid Afridi, is one of mutual respect and admiration, more-so from the younger captain towards his admittedly favourite player. In a bid to catch him off guard, Imad Wasim was asked what he would do if at a crucial point of the game, they differ on how to tackle the next over. “Shahid bhai knows the wicket very well, he is experienced, whatever feeling I get I know he will support me. I do not just have to stick to the plan, we have got to outclass the opposition. I need to execute out-of-the-box captaincy.”
Captained by all-rounder Shoaib Malik in the first edition of the league, one wonders what the sense of competition will be now that Malik is leading new franchise Multan Sultans. Given that they are both middle order all-rounders, Imad does not allude to any supposed rivalry with his national side teammate and is careful with his choice of words. “I play against and alongside him, he is a great player. I have learnt a lot from him, he is a friend.”
Imad Wasim cites former Australian captain Michael Clarke as a role model. “I listen to his commentary often, he is class, one can learn from him. I used to follow his career even before I became Karachi Kings captain. In recent times I feel he was one of the more aggressive captains and I have picked up a lot of things from observing him.”
In an earlier edition of the Caribbean Premier League as well as the first edition of the T10 League, it was seam bowler Sohail Tanvir who took Imad’s wicket. Are fans to grit their teeth in despair, should the same situation arise again? “When I bat, I have to hit. He bowls the death overs, I play the death overs. My batting depends on the required run rate, so getting out is part of the risk.”
For the devoted fan, that is exactly what Karachi Kings needs at this stage – a risk-taker. Given the team’s slogan of ‘Dilon Ke Badshah’ this badshah might just be the one to take the team past the finishing line.