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Like Imran, Misbah is a Niazi

- Ajmal is excited about his academy in Faisalabad
Misbah-ul Haq in Calcutta, on Tuesday

Calcutta: Like the iconic Imran Khan, Misbah-ul Haq is a Niazi. In fact, the two are related.

“As it is, I have a long name which the world knows me by... To have retained ‘Khan Niazi’ at the end would have been a bit too much... Aise hi bahut bada naam hai,” Misbah, Pakistan’s Test and ODI captain, told The Telegraph.

Speaking informally at Taj Bengal on Tuesday evening, before setting out shopping with coach Dav Whatmore and some team mates, Misbah added: “I’m still not quite sure how we’re related, but we are blood relations...

“Recently, one of our relatives tried explaining, but I found it rather confusing.”

Asked if he’d spoken to Imran before setting out for the three-match ODI series in India, Misbah said: “No... Imran’s very busy with politics, the opportunity just didn’t arise.”

But Misbah added: “There have been times when we’ve sat down and had a discussion... Gup-shup to hui hai, but not of late.”

It’s not surprising that Imran is Misbah’s idol. As he put it: “A great (World Cup-winning) captain and what a personality! He’s been my idol.”

Misbah, incidentally, is born in Mianwali — that’s the constituency Imran represented in the National Assembly for five years from 2002. He’d boycotted the last elections, in 2008, but is in overdrive for the next, not many months from now.

Mianwali sends two representatives to the National Assembly. Imran won from the rural seat.

“Our (ancestral) houses are on the same street in Mianwali,” Misbah informed.

Imran is based in Islamabad, while Misbah has dropped anchor in Lahore.

Meanwhile, star off-spinner Saeed Ajmal will, for a few days at least, be focusing on the International Cricket Academy which bears his name in hometown Faisalabad, once the India tour is over.

Pakistan’s trip to South Africa is scheduled to begin later this month.

“Phase I has started and is going to cost around Rs 15 crore... I’m thankful to the Punjab government (headed by Shahbaz Sharif) for giving me enough land and extending so much help...

“I’m also thankful to our Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, for granting Rs 10 crore... Once complete, the Academy will have a proper ground, where non-International fixtures can be held,” Ajmal pointed out, talking exclusively.

On the cards is a fund-raising T20 game involving members of the current Pakistan team and an invitational Academy XI, in Faisalabad itself.

“I’m really excited and I’ll be engaging qualified coaches... Those enrolling are going to be in good hands,” Ajmal maintained.

The Academy is pretty close to the Iqbal Stadium.