Ravi Shastri admits Imran Khan was one of the greatest captains
Imran Khan’s records generated in his career speak for themselves, Ravi Shastri said and added that if further validation is needed, then the experiences of those who played with and against Imran would come in handy as well.
In his book ‘Stargazing: The players in my life’, Ravi Shastri wrote, “Imran Khan is one of the greatest captains and players the game has seen. Why I hold this view hardly needs qualification. His records speak of itself and if at all further validation is necessary, it comes from the experience of those who played with or against him.”
He said that when India toured Pakistan in 1978, he saw Imran Khan playing on TV for the first time. He wrote, “When India toured Pakistan. He was then making a mark as one of the best all-rounders in cricket after a rather slow start to his career.”
He also revealed that when Pakistan visited India next season, he was present at the Wankhede Stadium to see Imran, and his control over swing made life hell for batsmen.
He wrote, “When Pakistan came to India the next season, I made sure to get a place in the North Stand at the Wankhede Stadium. Imran’s strength was his remarkable control over swing and reverse swing. The steeply curving late swingers or ‘indippers’ as they were called then, made life hellish for batsmen,”
He mentioned his first meeting with Imran and wrote, it was in the year 1987 that Ravi Shastri played against Imran Khan when he was leading the Indian Under-25 team against Pakistan, and Imran Khan had arrived late for the game.
He was stuck in traffic and wanted to start bowling as soon as he was back, which Ravi refused, and told umpires to go by the rules of the game. Ravi added that Imran told Wasim Akram to bounce him out.
"Sometimes later, when we were playing Pakistan in Sharjah, I suddenly got stomach cramps while batting and requested for a runner. Imran refused. We were 100 something for no loss then. I fell in a couple of deliveries. From a solid start, wickets started tumbling and we went on to lose the game chasing a modest 240-odd.
"Imran had not forgotten what I'd done to him earlier and paid back in kind. But while he played it real hard, he left the contest on the field. Off it, he was friendly but reserved, keeping pretty much to himself."
Ravi Shastri stated many thought Imran to be "aloof and snobbish; I think he was reserved, and not one to socialise readily".
He wrote, “Among the four great all-rounders of that era, Imran was the best batsman, technically and temperamentally, according to the situation demanded.”
Shoe-armed Shastri chased Miandad
Javed Miandad has had many memorable tales with the Indian team. Whether it was the controversy with Kiran More in the 1992 World Cup or Chetan Sharma’s last ball six in Sharjah to help his team win.
Miandad used to do such acts on and off the field many times which used to make headlines. One such incident has been mentioned by the coach of the Indian cricket team, Ravi Shastri. Shastri has told about this incident in his book. Shastri in his book ‘Stargazing: The Players in My Life’ has narrated many funny incidents in detail. Some stories from this book have been published in our partner newspaper Times of India.
The incident related to Javed Miandad dates back to 1987. The Pakistani team was on a tour of India. Shastri wrote, ‘When the Pakistani team was on a tour of India in 1987, I had a conflict with Miandad after winning the Hyderabad ODI. It was a very tough match and had Abdul Qadir not run for a run off the last ball, the match would have been a tie as the score was tied. Pakistan lost seven wickets in that match and we had six. And as per the rules of that time, we were declared won because we lost fewer wickets.
Shastri said that Miandad of Pakistan did not like this thing. He got very angry with this. He further wrote, ‘Miandad disliked this decision very much. After the match he came to our dressing room and said we won by foul play. At that time our enthusiasm was high. I got very angry at Miandad’s words, I picked up the shoe and ran after him till the Pakistani dressing room. There Imran Khan intervened and pacified the matter.
However, there was no estrangement between the two after that. Shastri wrote, “We forgot this incident immediately. However, when the teams were leaving for the next match, we spent a lot of time together on the flight. It was neither mentioned at that time nor after that.”