ISLAMABAD – Pakistani all rounder Shahid Afridi said that he grew up with the memories and stories of 1992 World Cup, about leadership, courage, belief, fighting spirit and he applied these lesson when he became a captain.
Shahid Khan Afridi said “I will always associate my earliest memories of the World Cup with the lovely month of Ramzan and getting up well before dawn. That particular time in the morning is supposed to be quiet, calm and slow, but in 1992 it was lively and buzzing because of the cricket World Cup.”
He said that everyone around me, friends and family, would get up in excitement, as much for the sehri (pre-dawn meal) as for the matches being telecast live from Australia and New Zealand.
“I was barely 11, maybe 12 – an age when I had already begun to understand the game and had started playing cricket in the streets. Whatever I was able to grasp about the game at that time, I didn’t think that Pakistan was going to go all the way. They lost a lot of games in the early stages of the World Cup and my excitement around the tournament started to go down. I lost my optimism and sense of thrill. But suddenly, after we beat New Zealand, things started to brighten up,” he added.
Afridi said told that though it was 23 years ago, I still remember about 80 or 90% of the tournament, mainly because of how our team hiccuped its way through the event. But at the end of the day, we ended up the winners.
“The 1992 World Cup is what defined my cricket and the cricketer in me. I then started to hear tales about Imran Khan’s leadership and stories about him from other players, and that began to shape my thoughts and dreams. Even on many occasions, although the situation was not good for Pakistan, he was one man who never let his players feel defeatist. It was as if his unflinching belief had led Pakistan to the title,” he said.
So many players in the dressing room told me how surprised they were at Imran’s belief that they were going to win the World Cup, even though the team was far from it. After losing a handful of matches, he would not even think about defeat, so much so that the players could well have been asking themselves, “What is kaptaan saying? We are losing and he is still talking about us winning the World Cup”.
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