For Asif Iqbal, an India-Pakistan contest may not be just another match, and he would not miss a ball because of the intensity it generates.
As he looks forward to the Sunday meeting between the two sides, Iqbal pleads: “treat it as a cricket match. One team will lose and let not the players from the losing team be unreasonably berated.”
Makings of a classic
Speaking to The Hindu from his home in London, Iqbal, former Pakistan captain and one of the finest allrounders to have represented Kent, said, “an India-Pakistan cricket match always has the makings of a classic. It can be exhilarating stuff for the fans even though it does put the players under tremendous pressure.”
Iqbal played four Ranji Trophy matches for Hyderabad before migrating to Pakistan in 1961. In fact, he played for South Zone against the visiting Pakistan in early 1961 and by the year-end, made his debut for Karachi.
“The pressure of performance is always there because the expectations from all stake-holders involved are huge. To me, it is always the biggest match of international cricket.
“Cricket is more than a sport now but the players are human. They can make mistakes. So let us not just shower them with adulation only when they win. Treat them as sportsmen.”
Iqbal observed: “Some former cricketers may be better than the present lot but they must understand that the game has evolved.
“A total of 250 is not a winning score now because of T20. I don’t give views on T20 because I am not qualified to do so. The current players have a different mindset and they are a remarkable lot because they handle immense pressure.”
The chief architect of cricket in the Gulf and some incredible India-Pakistan encounters at Sharjah, Iqbal said, “It happened because the players and the cricket boards were willing. I hope India and Pakistan play more regularly.”
Ahead of the Manchester match of the World Cup, Iqbal said, “I am sure it will be an excellent contest. I only hope it doesn’t rain. The scheduling of the World Cup has been poor.”
He will support “Pakistan” when it plays India. “But I support India when it plays another team.”