Shoaib Mohammed: ‘Imran sahab will make an impact’

Former Pakistan opener Shoaib Mohammed, son of the legendary Hanif Mohammed, feels Imran Khan will reinstate bilateral tournaments with India amid other issues in the terror-torn country.

Shoaib Mohammed on Imran Khan: "We love him and that’s why we put up photographs after voting. Through the photos, we wanted to show our attachment, mindset and what he taught us through his leadership."   -  Facebook/Shoaib Mohammed

Election or not, there is a sense of solidarity and respect among Pakistan cricketers when Imran Khan is present or discussed. After casting their vote on Wednesday, many of them took to social media to announce they had performed their national duty — a gesture that Shoaib Mohammed, son of the great Hanif Mohammed, calls “payback time” to the great captain who is set to serve the country.

Imran, the World Cup winner of 1992, claimed victory in the general elections of Pakistan on Thursday. His party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, emerged as the single largest party after the counting.

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On the eve of the declaration of the official results, Mohammed — who witnessed Imran’s glorious days on the field as a team-mate and a protege — feels his captain can turn the tide for Pakistan in all disciplines and improve cricketing relations with India.

“I believe Imran sahab is a sportsman first but the priority, at this point of time, is different. A few issues need to be rectified and then, of course, sports is such an area that cannot be taken away from his blood. He is bound to return to the sports field to solve problems wherever needed. Not just cricket but other sports too. Since we have been with him 24x7 during our playing days, we know what the man is all about. He will definitely make an impact,” Mohammed told Sportstar in a telephonic chat from Karachi.

The 57-year-old Mohammed — a stylish right-hand bat and an off-break bowler who represented Pakistan from 1983 to 1995 — made his Test debut against India in Jalandhar in 1983. He now wants the Pakistan youngsters to go through the drill too.

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“It will bring out the best in them. Playing against India is like walking six inches above the ground. If there is a good performance against India, that will be cherished ten times more by the player and the nation. I believe the impact is the same in India. The feeling of delivering in an India-Pakistan game will be special and you also get to assess players who can respond to pressure. He would definitely want to reinstate bilateral tournaments like yesteryears,” he added.

Imran, the friend in need

Though Imran retired in 1992, he kept in touch with his colleagues. He knew how to maintain bonds. “He came over to our house at the condolence meet of Hanif sahab (in 2016). It was very nice of him. We talked cricket and he also introduced me to the top officials of his party.

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We love him and that’s why we put up photographs after voting. Whoever played with him knows his mettle and characteristics. Through the photos, we wanted to show our attachment, mindset and what he taught through his leadership. We learnt how to be a strong person and fight against all odds. He injected these things in us,” added Mohammed.

Imran waited for 22 years to claim the throne. “Such is his influence and persona that the impact can be felt everywhere in the world,” he concluded.