Karachi Kab Jitega. Playing on the Pakistan Super League franchise Karachi Kings’ theme of ‘Karachi Jitega’ in past seasons, many a fan has been captured in the stadium with placards asking this vital question.
The pressure is on captain Imad Wasim, so we decided to add to it, with the very first query itself. Does he see himself as a match-winner? If he is flummoxed by the question, he does not show it. He answers with equal aplomb. “The Pakistan Test team were clinical against Bangladesh. Although that was a different format, that is what we have to do in this tournament. Not individual, but a full team effort will get us to the finishing line.”
In his personal preparation for PSL, Imad Wasim says that he has been working on a high-intensity fitness plan, with his trainer having introduced various resistance and endurance techniques to his daily regime. He continuously avoids sugar and processed foods, not wanting inflammation around his former knee injury to flare up again.
What role will wunderkind Umer Khan play this season? Is the captain aware that he has been accused of not playing Umer Khan because both are left-arm spinners and the latter’s success could put the former’s national team position in jeopardy? Imad Wasim states firmly that he is very keen to address this issue. “All those who are talking about me being insecure, should take a look at my ICC T20 bowler rankings (currently at No.5). At this stage of my career and as captain, I have to look at the bigger picture. Where the management and I see a role for Umer within the team, we will give it to him. As bowlers we all have to feed off each others’ energy and improve our performances throughout the innings. As for what others may conclude, I do not dwell on the negative. A team should always move forward together.”
What are Imad Wasim’s thoughts on mankading, which was in the news once again when Afghanistan left-arm spinner Noor Ahmed mankaded Pakistani Mohammad Huraira in the recent Under-19 World Cup. Like most of his international peers, he is resolute about this controversial issue. “I would never do it. It is in the law and I respect the law but in principle, I would warn the batsman if I feel he is too far out of the crease.”
His former Jamaica Tallawahs team-mate Dale Steyn has the same reaction to mankading. With the South African fast bowler’s entry (now delayed) into PSL being much talked about, how does Imad Wasim see him in this competition, especially given that Islamabad United has already won the competition twice. “Dale is the best bowler in the world, he should be treated as such. But in T20 anything can happen.”
Fans have recently been made aware that India’s current Test captain Virat Kohli played in Pakistan in 2006 and it was Imad Wasim who got him out three times on that U19s tour. (Cricinfo stats show Kohli being bowled lbw by Imad for 63 in the 1st Youth Test in Rawalapindi, bowled for28 in the 2nd innings and being bowled by Imad for 45 in the Sheikhupura ODI). Imad Wasim’s memories of that time are a bit hazy. “He is a phenomenal batsman, at that time we were much younger and I approach every ball the same. I need to get my wicket, irrespective of who is at the other end.”
The litmus test may be solely on the Karachi Kings captain, but he is taking it in his stride. Let the games begin.