Lahore: Despite being a trenchant critic of the Establishment, right through his decade in politics, there isn’t a semblance of security at Imran Khan’s residence here ' in Zaman Park. Getting past an aged caretaker is no big deal and, then, one encounters young nephews and nieces...
Imran, though, is cool.
“I don’t need to be protected... Don’t feel the need to be surrounded by securitymen,” he told The Telegraph, smiling, late on Friday afternoon. The iconic World Cup-winning captain, now a Member of the National Assembly, remains a believer in destiny.
Nowadays, of course, much of Imran’s time is spent in Islamabad. However, the Lahori in him hasn’t changed and it’s difficult to decline the many invitations he receives during brief visits to this charming city.
The day’s first half was pretty hectic and there were engagements for the evening as well. At the crack of dawn, Imran will head for Islamabad (“this is an interesting ' probably, defining ' time for the opposition parties...”).
Engagement No.1 was giving tips to quick Mohammed Sami during the Pakistan probables’ informal nets at the Academy off the Gaddafi. Incidentally, captain Inzamam-ul Haq was present (with hands behind the back) for much of the interaction.
Later, as Imran prepared to leave for the gym, he had a one-on-one for around five minutes. “Oh, that was about strategy... Obviously, I can’t tell you what I told Inzy,” Imran remarked.
Not that Inzamam was looking for a boost ahead of a tough six weeks, but Imran gave him credit for “reviving” Pakistan cricket: “He has been leading from the front and his performances have lifted the team... Even Shoaib (Akhtar) is a changed cricketer.”
It’s a huge endorsement.
In any case, Imran has consistently maintained Inzamam has no peers if delivering under pressure is the yardstick.
Talking of Sami, Imran said: “Owing to injuries, he hasn’t been able to develop that wicket-taking ability... He isn’t short on talent, but needs to bowl more at the highest level... Depending on the schedule, I can have more sessions during the forthcoming matches.”
Sami was delighted. “I’d requested Imranbhai for guidance and I’m happy he helped out during a nets session... Hopefully, the tips are going to be useful... Besides technical things, he spoke about the mental aspect... Of working on the batsman’s mind and...”
Imran has suggested that if the two Ws (Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis) have the time, they could work with Sami as well. Given that what he says is respected, the two may soon follow him.
Sami, clearly, is privileged.