As Imran Khan took oath as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, India’s former batting great, Sunil Gavaskar recalled how Khan’s challenge convinced him to delay his retirement back in 1986 after England series.
When, one of the greatest opening batsman to ever play cricket, Sunil Gavaskar told Khan that he is taking retirement, the Pakistani skipper asked him to continue play as Pakistan were scheduled to tour India the following year and he wanted to beat India in their backyard with their best batsman in the team.
“’You can’t retire now. Pakistan is coming to India next year and I want to beat India in India. If you aren’t part of that team, it won’t be the same. Come on, let’s have one last tilt against each other,’ Imran Khan replied when I told him I planned to retire at the end of the India tour of England,” Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar recalled that if Pakistan’s tour was not announced before England’s final Test, he would have announced his retirement.
“I said if the announcement of the tour wasn’t made before the final Test [against England], I would go ahead and announce my retirement from international cricket. The tour was indeed announced in a few days,” he went on to say.
As Imran Khan intended, Pakistan toured India and registered their first ever Test series victory on Indian soil.
Sunil Gavaskar also told that with Imran Khan as Pakistan’s Premier, the two countries can start a new chapter of friendship under his leadership.
“He is the only Prime Minister of Pakistan who has come to India several times as an ordinary citizen and has interacted not only with the high societal types but also the man on the street who met him as a fan. He should, therefore, be well aware that most Indians would want him to succeed as a Prime Minister and usher in a new era of friendship, and look forward not back,” he said.