Lahore: Javed Miandad has been a Lahori for some years, but Karachi remains special. He was, after all, once that port city’s most recognisable face. Understandably, he is “disappointed” the Indian cricketers won’t be playing a Test there.
However, the Pakistan coach (who enjoys icon-status) is “delighted” that the revival process is in motion and the first full tour in over 14 years is days away.
“Main controversy nahin karna chahta, but I believe people of this region shouldn’t ape others... New Zealand and South Africa refused to play, but the Indians could have set an example by playing for five days... I mean, goron ko cheekne se bhi dar lagta hai... Of course, a one-day game is scheduled and I’m confident there won’t be any incident,” Miandad told The Telegraph.
Speaking after Wednesday’s morning session of the conditioning camp, at the Gaddafi, he added: “Actually, the tour is going to be different as the public wants good cricket, not necessarily a Pakistan win... From the feedback I’m getting, people are just happy with the Indians coming... It’s an indication of the public’s maturity.”
Miandad expects the five ODIs and the three Tests to be played in “excellent spirit.” He put it thus: “Frankly, agar waisa nahin hua, then we shouldn’t be playing at all. Be it your Prime Minister or our President, everybody has linked cricket to the improvement of relations... Therefore, both teams have to set the perfect example... They certainly won’t be at war...”
Apparently, Pakistan’s probables have been told that on-the-field misconduct will invite stern internal action, in addition to any Match Referee-judged penalty.
Asked whether much of Pakistan’s hopes would hinge on tearaway Shoaib Akhtar, Miandad replied: “But, why only him' Sure, he’s a world-class bowler, but we’ve done well in his absence too... It’s not right to put Shoaib under extra pressure.”
Talking of Rahul Dravid, who is expected to play a leading role in India’s campaign, Miandad said: “He’s good... But, when he takes guard for the first time, he is going to start on zero... In fact, each innings will be a fresh beginning... Whatever Dravid’s reputation, he has to prove himself in Pakistan.”
Typical of the combative Miandad that.
Miandad, though, declined to compare the current Indian players with those of the past: “I doubt if comparisons serve much purpose. Bottomline is how a particular side plays, how it absorbs pressure. Greats have been known to flop. At the same time, unheralded players have done wonders... Yeh sab cricket ka kamaal hai.”
Incidentally, he denied being uncharitable towards young Irfan Pathan. “Main sab players ko respect karta hoon... Moreover, I don’t even know Pathan... It’s absurd to say I’ve belittled him. Why should I' He has ability and I wish him well.”
[The other day, sections of the Media quoted Miandad as saying: “There’s an Irfan Pathan in every galli of Pakistan.”]
Looking to the ODIs and Tests, Miandad opined it’s “difficult” picking the likely winner. “Bahut mushkil sawaal hai... Yes, to an extent, the manner of handling the pressure is going to make a difference. Eventually, however, the quality of cricket will separate the teams... Personally, I’m looking forward to great cricket...”
If the big guns fire, Miandad won’t be disappointed.