Only World Cup winners are remembered, says Imad – Sport

LAHORE: Emphasising that winning the T20 World Cup was the primary target of the team, Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim on Saturday said his main focus was to handle pressure inside the ground.

“[Fast bowler] Mohammad Amir and I have returned to international cricket [by coming out of retirement] with one clear goal and that is to win the T20 World Cup,” Imad said while taking to reporters here at the Gaddafi Stadium where the Babar Azam-led Pakistan squad started the national camp on Saturday.

“Reaching the final or even semi-final is a massive achievement, no doubt. But unfortunately, the losing finalist team is not remembered, only the champion side is kept in mind.

“I firmly believe that if we combine well and play to our full potential, no team can beat us.”

Pakistan after the three-day camp are scheduled to leave for the T20 tours to Ireland and England later this month. The twin tour will prepare the green-shirts for the all-important T20 World Cup being staged in the US and West Indies from June 1-29.

Answering a question regarding his role in bowling, the 35-year-old Imad said he was ready for any task given by the team management.

“I am preparing for any role which maybe given to me. Opening the bowling or operating in the middle overs, it’s not a problem for me,” the slow left-arm orthodox spinner said.

“If the [players’] roles become clearer before the World Cup, it will be better for the team.”

He continued, “The playing conditions at the World Cup will be different as strong winds, particularly in West Indies, do impact the game there. I have experienced this while playing in the Caribbean Premier League.”

Imad, who announced to retire from international cricket in November last year before reversing his decision in March, said he never took outside pressure in the game.

“I always look to handle the match pressure, which is inside the ground, in order to perform for the team. I don’t think about what is happening outside or away from the field,” the player, who has 68 T20 Internationals under his belt, said.

On whether he will suggest Babar in captaincy and planning, Imad said, “Yes, definitely I will. I have not returned [to international fold] for any personal interest, it’s only for Pakistan’s pride and finishing on a high note by giving the nation the gift of World Cup.”

Responding to a question about his career beyond the T20 World Cup, Imad said he was not looking too far ahead and was presently concentrating only on the World Cup.

“If we win the World Cup, there can be no better achievement than this. And then I will not leave [the team],” the left-handed batter said in a lighter vein.

Fast bowler Naseem Shah in his presser said winning the World Cup, and not just the game against India, was important.

“Obviously, when you play in a major [multi-nation] tournament your aim is to win the title and not just beat India, as every match is important,” right-armer Naseem, who recovered from a shoulder injury to play the Pakistan Super League and some T20 matches against New Zealand in the recently-held home series, said.

“I am feeling good after recovering from the injury, my body is in good shape. I am also excited for the World Cup for which Pakistan has the best fast bowling combination in Shaheen Shah Afridi, Amir, Haris Rauf and myself,” the pacer said.

Naseem added, “Amir has staged a comeback in international cricket and as he is experienced, you can discuss many things with your experienced fellow and it is good.”

Meanwhile, top-order batter Fakhar Zaman said Pakistan must improve for the forthcoming assignments, the top of which is the World Cup.

“My batting position in T20s is No. 4 but I am not satisfied with my performance as far as playing fast in the middle overs is concerned,” the southpaw said while talking to reporters.

“We have to bring improvement in our recent form for the next assignments.

“Your mindset is important, we have to keep a good mindset in the World Cup. The management has given us plans and we are acting upon them and you will see a different team,” Fakhar said.

Hard-hitting batter Iftikhar Ahmed said winning the matches for Pakistan was his main target.

“I always enjoy the game and I practise daily for power-hitting. My main target is to produce memorable performance for the team in winning matches,” the burly-built player said.

In his media talk, mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed, who played some matches of the recent T20 series against New Zealand, said that he would try to give match-winning performance.

“If I get more opportunities I will try to give match-winning performances,” he said. “Like other bowlers my main target is to get the prize wicket of Virat Kohli. [However] we have to win against all the teams and not just against India.”

All-rounder Salman Ali Agha, in his conversation with media, said he was excited for the tours of England and Ireland.

“As I have been playing international cricket for the last couple of years, I know well how to tackle the pressure of international matches,” Salman said.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2024

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