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Different captains, different approaches!

How other captains would have reacted in the ‘mother of all clashes’ as Imran Khan did in the Pak-India match of 1987

Different captains, different approaches!
— Shiju Sugunan

On 18th February 1987, Pakistan defeated India in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in what can easily be termed as ‘mother of all clashes’. Chasing 239 to win in 40 overs, Imran Khan’s tigers managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, thanks to inspirational captaincy and some magnificent batting. Not only did the great Khan ‘play’ with the batting order, he made sure that the right players were utilised at the right time. What he did hasn’t been followed yet because his successors (and even predecessors) were not as good as him. Here is what he did, and what the others would do if stuck in the same position! What Imran Khan actually did? India scored 238 runs for the loss of 6 wickets in 40 overs, thanks to Srikanth’s 123 runs at the top order. Azharuddin’s 49 in the middle was instrumental in posting a huge total (by 1980s standards) and Pakistan were left with a daunting task. But the Indians forgot that Imran Khan was at the helm, and he promoted an unknown Younis Ahmed to open the innings with Rameez Raja, instead of Mudassar Nazar who was known for his slow batting. (Younis Ahmed was an exceptional batsman who scored many runs in county cricket). The openers added 106 runs in 15 overs and laid the foundation of an epic win. Javed Miandad came next followed by hard hitters Abdul Qadir, Manzoor Elahi and the skipper himself. The man-of-the-match Saleem Malik was sent in at number 7 and his 36-ball 72 changed the course of the match, singlehandedly. Pakistan won the match by two wickets in the last over when Malik struck a four, with Mudassar Nazar at the other end managing just one. Pakistan doubled their lead in the series and for the next 10 years, they dominated the Indo-Pak rivalry, thanks to Imran Khan and his motivational mind games. What Javed Miandad would have done? Javed Miandad would have opened the innings, sent Manzoor Elahi at number 3, Saleem Malik at number 4 and Pakistan would have won the match, thanks to the skipper’s knock. He wouldn’t have entrusted the batsman in Imran Khan because Khan sahib didn’t let him complete  his triple century a handful of years earlier. A grudge is a grudge in Miandad’s brand of cricket! What Wasim Akram would have done? Imran Khan’s protégé Wasim Akram would have gone in ahead of other deserving players in order to emulate the King Khan, but since he wasn’t accustomed to facing the new-ball, his dismissal would have triggered a batting collapse. Just as it happened 25 years back, Saleem Malik’s innings would steer Pakistan to safety, winning the match by two wickets! What Saleem Malik would have done? Captain Malik was known for his brave decisions, and stupid ways of getting dismissed. He would have sent the regular openers to start off the proceedings, would have promoted himself to number three and would have taken Pakistan to the target with his gutsy batting. In the final over, when four runs would be required for the visitors to win the match, he would get dismissed in a manner that would have made Mr. Bean proud. Pakistan would have lost the match as well, but would have won the series! What Misbah-ul-Haq would have done? The way Misbah leads the team is exactly the opposite of Imran’s brand of captaincy. The current skipper of the Pakistan side would have sent Mudassar Nazar to open the innings with Rameez Raja, the two would have scored 100 runs in 25 overs, then Javed Miandad would have come in at number three and Misbah would have come in at number four (as usual). His slow batting for the next few overs would put the pressure on the rest of the team, but remember,  Misbah is what Misbah does. Clean hitting in the final overs would get Pakistan through to the target and Misbah’s tuk tuk would be forgotten. The team would only lose if the rest of the batsmen decided to surrender in order to make their captain look bad! What Intikhab Alam would have done? Intikhab Alam was once a cricketer (honest!) as well but as a captain, he was never a fighter. He would have opened the innings, batted till the end and ensured that the match ends in a draw (after 40 overs, he would have been told that India has won the match and there is no draw until you level the scores!) It was Pakistan’s good luck that he wasn’t the skipper for long in One-day Internationals! What Moin Khan would have done? And yes, the protégé of Imran Khan’s protégé… Moin Khan would yell ‘Shabash Shabash’ behind the stumps and go to Wasim Akram for advice after every over!

2 comments

  • Over simplifying things just to paint Imran as a great captain and forgetting the rest

  • IK was the captain who likes to take the risk & he took the risk by sending Younus Ahmed as an opener & that paid off.
    No other captain could dare to take such action.
    Fortune favours the braves.

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