Sunil Gavaskar recalls Imran Khan’s challenge

Former Pakistan captain persuaded the Indian batsman to delay his retirement

Sunil Gavaskar recalls Imran Khan’s challenge PHOTO: AFP

Former Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar has said that Imran Khan’s challenge made him reconsider his retirement plans back in the day.

Gavaskar — who scored over 10,000 runs in Test matches for India – wrote in his column for The Times of India that if former Pakistan captain Imran Khan had not persuaded him to continue playing, he would have opted to retire before the 1986-87 series against Pakistan at home.

“’You can’t retire now. Pakistan is coming to India next year and I want to beat India in India. If you aren’t part of that team, it won’t be the same. Come on, let’s have one last tilt against each other,’ Imran Khan replied when I told him I planned to retire at the end of the India tour of England,” Gavaskar said.

He added: “I said if the announcement of the tour wasn’t made before the final Test, I would go ahead and announce my retirement from international cricket. The tour was indeed announced in a few days.”

Pakistan victory in the final Test of the five-match series earned them their first ever Test series win on Indian soil.

Gavaskar — who is widely considered as one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time —also heaped praise on Khan for his inspirational leadership during triumphant 1992 World Cup campaign.  

“He had a vision before the 1992 World cup started that Pakistan would win the trophy and that’s exactly how it turned out. His belief despite Pakistan’s slow start to the tournament was unshakeable,” he said.

He also believes that Indians want Khan to succeed as Prime Minister and begin a new era of friendship between the two neighbouring countries.  

“He is the only Prime Minister of Pakistan who has come to India several times as an ordinary citizen and has interacted not only with the high societal types but also the man on the street who met him as a fan. He should, therefore, be well aware that most Indians would want him to succeed as a Prime Minister and usher in a new era of friendship, and look forward not back,” he said.

PM-elect Imran Khan took oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan on Friday at a ceremony held at the President House. Gavaskar was also invited for the ceremony but he was unable to attend because of prior commitments.