I was a teenager in the mid-70s and the memories of the 1971 war with Pakistan were still fresh. Most things associated with Pakistan were frowned upon. Except maybe for two: singer Noor Jehan and poet Faiz. There may have been a third, a relatively lesser known character, an athlete named Imran Khan.
Imran had just entered the international cricket class and brought in some color. He was a Tyro all-rounder who moved around in a flash. That was a big deal for us because our own fast bowlers – Abid Ali, Eknath Solkar, etc. – did not shoot more than a friendly medium pace. In addition, Imran beat better and scored faster, which was unusual in those days. But the biggest reason for his interest in him was his good looks; There were several stories of his love life. And then there was the unconfirmed rumor that he was born with his right wrist on his right shoulder and that it would not have been lost in a childhood accident, he would never have played cricket. That was the puzzle of Imran Khan.
Then, in 1
In honor of this unexpected government initiative, Doordarshan showed the series live, a premiere. It was a dazzling experience for us teenagers. Zaheer Abbas's brawling, Imran's bowling and Gavaskar's fighting resistance are some of the highlights of the series that will take me to the grave.
The series gave Vajpayee's reputation as a peacemaker and statesman a great boost. As the Indo-Pak relations improved dramatically, Pakistan visited India in 1979/80 for a return series. The team with greats like Asif Iqbal, Zaheer Abbas, Majid Khan and Mudassar Nazar was warmly welcomed. But the biggest flattery was reserved for Imran.
The Famous Swing
A few days before the series started, Rakesh Sharma, my crazy cricket neighbor, came by in the early morning and invited me to see how the Pakistani got on practice the Palam terrain. We reached the venue on time. The lush green expanse of Delhi's milder winter sun looked breathtaking. The Pakistanis were on the nets. As unimaginable as it may seem today, hardly anyone was around. A few officials watched from the steps of the pavilion. A few young girls looked proudly at their newly signed autograph books. And a few young people scattered the terrain.
We soon sneaked on the nets to see better. The visitors were hard at work. They appeared bigger and stronger than on TV. We recognized Majid Khan on the nets. And bowling was our crush on him – Imran. We knew they were cousins. And what a sight they presented. Both tall and athletic, with chiseled facial features. One was bowling with grace and pace. The other one took majestic shots.
We went right behind the stumps to watch Imran's famous momentum. We could barely keep an eye on the ball because it was fast and beautiful in the air. But Majid did not seem worried. He beat with royal nonchalance. He had known the purists offended by stating that playing big bats did not require footwork, just a good eye. Here he proved it when two uninvited 18-year-old gawked.
After a while we went to the pavilion for a bite. When we came back, Imran was teeming. Not on the nets, but in a spot near the pavilion. He hit a block, with no gates. The bowlers were local boys. Imran played a defensive defensive to slow down the bowling, and we thought it was perfectly safe to stand where the funds would be. About five or six boys alternated with him. All pitching in one place. Imran was a picture of concentration. Lean forward and choke the rotation. Ball after ball. Tireless.
Then he stopped, looked around, and asked, " Koi slow left arm Spinner hai? " We realized that Imran was trying to spin slowly with his left arm because he was in Delhi, home to the world's best slow left leg spinner of the world, Bishen Bedi, whom he would encounter in the coming weeks.
His eyes fell on both of us. As luck would have it, I whirled my left arm slowly in college and I raised my hand. Imran said, "Come and shake me around the leg."
And that's exactly how I found myself in Imran Khan again. Twice I beat him around the legs. When the ball first walked around his legs, he just looked at me. The second time he looked at me, smiled warmly and said, "Good ball." I could not believe my ears.
But that was it's. Then he opened his posture and the further out the leg lay, the more he opened to deal with the angle. I tried the most, but nothing passed him. About two dozen balls later, he asked me to throw a good length on the off stump. I could turn the ball a lot on those days, but that did not make much sense if I had a good length on the stump. Nothing unusual has happened for a long time. Then a ball turned sharply, almost missing its outer edge. He looked at me with the same warm smile and repeated the magic words: "Good Ball"! If it was 2018, my friend would have filmed everything on his phone. But 39 years ago, most of us did not have any cameras in our homes. Fortunately, some press photographers arrived at the time of training. One of them asked if I wanted a picture with Imran. When I nodded excitedly, he asked Imran if he could click. The great Khan looked at me, smiled and said, "With pleasure."
The way he said those words, it seemed he was thanking you. Can anyone imagine that today? A world-famous cricketer who welcomed and thanked a nameless child from another land, until recently a hostile land, with all the generosity that was offered to him
This is the Imran I encounter in those few hours I'm in the field. And if two decades of politics have not changed him, India will find him bright, warm, friendly and generous. Of course, the interests of his people will be the cornerstone of his diplomacy, but it still represents the best opportunity since independence for the two nations to achieve trust and peace.
Before I left, the photographer gave me his name and name It was easy to find in an alley behind the Super Bazaar at Connaught Place, and I was supposed to come in three days to pick up the imprint. Photos were a big deal during that time, and I can not describe how eagerly I've been waiting to get my hands on this one.
Three days later I reached the studio. And there was the pressure waiting for me. Bringing it home was a heavenly experience. For the past four decades, the photo has moved a dozen houses and half a dozen cities. Many of my things have deteriorated, even disappeared. But miraculously, this little picture has survived.
Here's the great Khan who made this winter day so good to me a long time ago. And here one hopes that India can actually have a happier future with a Pakistan under Imran Khan.
The filmmaker, television programmer, film scholar and author formerly directed programming at Discovery and BBC Worldwide.