It was March 1992. My FSc exam was about to start in a few days time. I opted for preps at home rather than staying at the hostel. Meanwhile, the drama and excitement of World Cup 1992 were on. During study hours I used to watch a few overs of the match, off and on, particularly the final few moments of death overs.
The Pakistan cricket team was in a bad shape since the very beginning of the competition. In the first five matches, Pakis managed to win only one match. At one stage, the team had to place bets on West Indies losing the match to Australia to send them straight into the semi-finals. Fortune was on Pakistan’s side and Australia won the match and team Pakistan landed from nowhere into the semifinals. Those who were watching the match live could easily recall the hullabaloo. Since it was a big match, I along with my few family members were glued to our 14″ black & white TV set.
At the end of the West Indies-Australia match, one of the commentators asked Sunil Gavaskar about his expert opinion, since four teams ( NZ, Aus, Eng & Pak) finally made it to the semis, who will win the World Cup. Gavaskar without any hesitation said that in his opinion it is Pakistan that will win the World Cup.
These comments turned me ecstatic. I was so exhilarated about the prediction and approbation of one of the greatest batsmen of his time, Sunil Gavaskar that I was unable to control my emotions. I was over the moon. Feeling the same, my father sitting beside me asked about the state of my exhilaration. I replied that this person (Gavaskar) though he hails from India, our archrival nation has a positive feeling, confidence and trust about the potential of Pakis and openly foretold that Pakistan will win the World Cup.
My father was equally enthralled and he also appreciated Gavaskar’s positive feelings about the Pakistani cricket team. Soon it proved to be a reality as Pakistan won the competition and become the world champion. That was the moment, I developed a sense of solemn respect and a feeling of profound admiration for this legendary cricketer. Later on, I realised that these were the shared feelings of the entire Pakistani nation towards this man.
This also recalled me, of our common feelings of goodwill towards India that earlier during our childhood days, at international mega-events like cricket, hockey, kabaddi, wrestling or any other sports where the Pakistani team had lost and was out of the race, we used to support Indian teams, at full-throttle, thinking that it was our neighbouring country and the trophy or cup would eventually come to Asia/subcontinent rather than going anywhere else which used to be the feeling of pride for all of us. The same feelings used to prevail across the border. But today things have changed. No such feeling of benevolence persists anymore. Thanks to mass media and the senseless politicians. Today, the communal feeling is that why should India win, when Pakistan has lost. The same feeling of ill-well, vice versa.
I still remember that in such a situation, no one had the slightest of feelings that this team would be the winner of the World Cup, but in the meantime, only one voice was echoing in the air, which was constantly saying that the Pakistani team shall win the World Cup. It was Gavaskar, God knows, why he trusted so much the Pakistani cricket team that he was looking at it as a World Cup winner. His prediction came true.
This blog post is aimed at paying tribute to Sunil Gavaskar on his birthday as he turned 73 today as fans, friends and cricket fraternity around the world flooded social media with best wishes. In this blog post, I also explicate how another of his predictions about Pakistani ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan, came true.
Sunil Gavaskar, India’s legend batsman and one of my favourites and the widely respected cricketer, was born in Mumbai on July 10, 1949. Sunil Gavaskar ended his illustrious Test career with 10,122 runs and 34 centuries in 125 matches, making him the leading run-scorer and highest-scoring batsman in Test cricket at that time.
Gavaskar has also written four books. His simple, interesting and engaging style does not let the readers go away from him. As a commentator, his candid analysis and blunt comments were widely extolled. He is having a strong sense of humour and is well-versed in the art of copying cricketers.
After the World Cup, he came to Lahore on the invitation of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attended a special ceremony at Gaddafi Stadium to mark the World Cup victory. This was the moment that the whole Pakistani nation expressed its love for this great cricketer.
Another of his incredible prediction came true about Imran Khan. Gavaskar, who turned a commentator and cricket pundit after calling it day from international cricket, was once doing commentary on an India vs Bangladesh match alongside former Pakistani cricketer Ramiz Raja.
Sunil Gavaskar and Rameez Raja were in the commentary box during the Asia Cup match.
Referring to Imran Khan on this occasion, Rameez said, “When we were playing there was obviously Viv Richards who used to brutalise you by hooking and pulling, then there was Mr. Gavaskar who used to neutralise the likes of Imran Khan by swaying away from the line of the ball. I fielded at short leg and Imran, every now and then, every 10 minutes came up to me and said ‘dekho yeh kaise khelta hai’.”
Rameez Raja uttered this sentence in the voice of Imran Khan to which Gavaskar immediately replied, “Be very careful Rambo (nickname of Rameez Raja), who you are mimicking on television, could be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.”
At the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as Prime Minister, again Gavaskar along with other two Indian cricketers was invited to Islamabad. The invite sent from PTI Chairman’s Secretariat said, “It’s indeed a great pleasure to have invited you for the oath-taking ceremony of PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The event will be held in Islamabad on Saturday – August 18, 2018. We would want you to kindly grace this historic occasion with your presence.”
However, he refused to attend the ceremony due to his professional commitments but extended his good wishes to the new Prime Minister. Hence, one can easily infer that in Pakistan, Gavaskar is the most loved and widely respected Indian cricketer.