Younis Khan: Likening T20 to WWF!

"Back home there was a lot of unrest in the Swat valley and people wanted a moment of joy. This was provided by our team winning the title," says the Pakistan captain.

The triumphant Pakistan team. Younis Khan, the skipper, is third from left in the back row.   -  GETTY IMAGES

I have long lasting impressions of the tournament. Even today when I recall it gives me a pleasant sensation and a sense of great pride. These are very good memories. I still remember that we had played a series against Australia and I had taken over as T20 captain a few months before that. We had little time to prepare for the mega event, but we did some unique training at a hill station. We had our families with us and that was a great satisfaction. We were mentally relaxed and that also helped. When we were put under pressure we dealt with it calmly and whatever plans I had made worked to perfection.

 

I think the turning point was England losing to The Netherlands. That upset gave us a good chance and we didn’t look back after that. I remember that we lost to England, but at the post-match press conference I was relaxed and some of my comments surprised the English media. Like, I said that Twenty20 cricket is total entertainment and it is like WWF wrestling. It was proved later and when the same journalist asked me the same question after our win in the final I gave the same answer. After we won the Cup, I said that it was entertainment and it was proved because there was no South Africa, or India or West Indies in the final. Sri Lanka and Pakistan played the final which proved my point.

The win was really important for us as and it was a much needed achievement. I remember before we left for England we were hearing of a lot of unrest in the Swat valley, which is just two hours’ drive from my hometown, Mardan. The people of Mardan were helping their brothers, who were leaving Swat and settling in our town.

People wanted a moment of joy and that was provided by our team winning the title. We used to listen to the news bulletins about Swat in England. I used to motivate the boys by saying that our nation needs this win and they were up to the task. I remember the whole nation came together to celebrate the win.

Among the moments to cherish, other than the final, had to be our semi-final against South Africa. We were wary of them as they were a great team, very much the title favourites. So we were a bit nervous to start with, but Shahid Afridi stole the show. He was extraordinary in the match in batting, bowling and catching.

(As told to Shahid Hashmi)