Imran Khan's pep talk

Pakistan came back from nowhere to triumph in the 1992 World Cup down under, a tournament where Imran Khan, captain extraordinaire, fulfilled a life-long dream. He was in the final stages of his illustrious career by now, but, he still proved an inspirational leader, lifting his men to a Cup triumph.

And who better than this formidable Pathan to offer words of wisdom to the Pakistani think-tank ahead of the World Cup. The match-winning all-rounder from the past met skipper Waqar Younis, vice-captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, and senior cricketer Wasim Akram, in Islamabad on January 19.

Said Zakir Khan, GM Cricket Operations, Pakistan Cricket Board, who arranged the meeting. "It was an excellent meeting that lasted three hours and discussions on various cricket issues were held. Imran shared his mind with the players who were also frank on their part.''

As Zakir Khan revealed strategies and game-plans were discussed. "Imran discussed the game plans, strategies, pressures of the World Cup, how to handle them, team selections, field placings and most importantly, laid stress on Pakistan playing as a team. Imran told the three players that he was convinced that the present side had the capability and tenacity to win the World Cup.''

The Pakistan Board official added - "Imran went to the extent of saying that the present boys were more talented and experienced than the ones he took to Australia 11 years ago.

He emphasised that they should keep themselves so focussed so that nothing could distract them from their target. He said there would be several pressures that would be applied on the team, mostly by the foreign media. He told the boys that similar things happened to him (in 1992) but he didn't allow his players to deviate from their goal and the rest is all history.''

"Imran advised Waqar that his and the team's motto should be `never say die' and not to concede a match until it is over. But at the same time, Imran urged Waqar, Inzamam, and Wasim to unite the team under one umbrella, get the best out of them. He told them that they were the senior players and had the responsibility of leading by example,'' said Zakir Khan.

Would Imran's words provide the side with the needed fillip? It well could.