The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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To me, cricket is war: Miandad

Islamabad: Javed Miandad, the irrepressible Pakistan cricketer, says he suffered a rare embarrassment and learnt a lesson on patriotism during the 1986-87 tour of India when Mohinder Amarnath gave him an on-the-pitch tongue-lashing for making deriding remarks against India.

Miandad, the self-confessed inventor of sledging, “reached his boiling” point when Amarnath got the better of him at the Jaipur Test, which was witnessed among others by Pakistan’s late military dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq.

“The two teams were on the edge with each other and the atmosphere was tense. At one point, I was fielding close in and was airing my feeling to the batsman, who happened to be Mohinder Amarnath,” writes Miandad in his autobiography Cutting Edge.

Miandad the tormentor, became tormented when Amarnath survived a close appeal. “When Mohinder survived what I thought was yet another very legitimate appeal, I reached boiling point. I used an expletive to describe India and Mohinder heard it. Calmly, he walked up to me and said, ‘look Javed, call me anything you want, but don’t say a word against my country’.

“That affected me deeply. I have always regarded my own country as being above everything except Allah. I was embarrassed that I hadn’t respected Mohinder’s right to feel the same way about his country. I immediately apologised to him,” writes Miandad in the 321-page book.

True to his “Pakistani spirit”, Miandad has devoted a special chapter to Pakistan-India encounters and titled it ‘Wars with India’.

Miandad says his brush with Amarnath taught him the real stakes in India-Pakistan encounters. “It was far beyond anything personal. It was about one’s country and what one could do for it.”

Miandad genuinely believes that sledging played a key role in his success. “Intimidatory verbal exchanges suit my personality. They help me concentrate and elevate my game. Players who tried to threaten and bully me probably didn’t realise they were doing me a favour,” he says and claims his Indian victims included, “the great” Sunil Gavaskar, spinner Dilip Doshi and needless to say, fast bowler Chetan Sharma, whose last ball full-toss enabled him to hit a six to win a historic match against India at Sharjah in 1986.

Conspicuously absent from the narrative, however, is how a livid Miandad went jumping all around the pitch, enraged by behind-the-stumps commentary from Indian wicketkeeper, Kiran More.

Describing an incident involving Gavaskar in detail, Miandad says: “So you have become a really big player, Sunny, I said from my position in the slips. When he ignored me, I told him it didn’t matter how big he had become because he was going to be out the first ball and I was going to take his catch.

“May be it was what I said or the way I said it, or may be it would have happened anyway. Unbelievably, Gavaskar edged the first ball of the innings from Imran to me in the slips. The look on his face was one of utter disbelief. As for me, I went crazy with joy and started gloating and jumping around like a mad man,” says Miandad and justifies his action by saying that cricket was no different from war.

“To me, cricket is war. Just like a soldier defending the borders of his country, I was always focussed on the battle in front of me.” Miandad also narrates how he ruffled Doshi at the Bangalore Test in 1983-84 series by making snide remarks against him to protest against the bowler’s persistent leg-stump bowling.

As expected, Miandad reserves his best when it came to narrating his last-ball success against Sharma in the 1986 Sharajh one-day encounter.

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