Interview of Cricket Fans (ICF) – 2

If there is one thing Pakistan is hugely popular for, and if there is one thing that unites the people of Pakistan, it has to be the sport of Cricket. It simply runs in their blood. Just like India, you can see people on the streets playing gully cricket. I have even seen video clips of children at the age of 5 or 6 years bowling as if they have just seen Wasim Akram’s bowling and got inspired by him. There are no shortages of Pakistan fans that’s for certain. During the game between Pakistan and South Africa which happened at Lord’s last year in the 2019 World Cup, almost 70% of the crowds were filled by passionate Pakistan fans. It’s always a different feeling getting to know fans perspective and in this article I have interviewed one such  passionate fan who resides in Gujrat, Pakistan. As I will be interviewing Cricket fans from around the world, the next fan I will be interviewing is Khurram Aziz.

@Khurramaziz123 is on Twitter since 2016 and is a massive Saeed Anwar fan. He is pretty popular too with 969 followers and counting. So let’s begin with the interview.

What made you fall in love with Cricket? What is that one thing that piqued your interest for this sport?

We lived in a populated city area where in streets cricket was played all the time, so basically started from there, started playing street cricket at the age of 9 (was never a good bowler, batsman or fielder hahaha) that was late in 1995, so in 1996 there was WC craze going on and there was a song ‘Jazba Junoon’ was airing on TV those days which was keeping the adrenaline going. We didn’t use to have a TV set so watched WC at my uncle’s house and it was Saeed Anwar’s batting which glued me to that WC and after that cricket in general

So you are a hardcore Saaed Anwar fan I assume. Which innings of his did you like the most?

Yes Saeed was at peak of his powers from 96-99 and he was the only consistent performer for us alongwith Inzi at that time so by every pasding match love for his batting grew stronger and stronger but there were Saqi and Wasim as well, Saqi from 95-99 was at his peak and was very hard to play due to his doosra and Akram as usual even after his peak was performing well so it was great time to follow Pak cricket with all the 90s stars were having their last 6, 7 years after 96, so previliged to watch all that. Coming to favorite innings, well that 194 vs India will always remain special, so excited that day, also his innings from that Durban test, we were having tough time vs SA that time and struggled to beat them in both formats so Saeed’s ton alongwith obviously Mushi, Shoaib and Azhar’s effort we won that test and went 1-0 up in the series. Also his Gabba and Kolkata test tons were special.

Pakistan Cricket was surely at its peak considering they won the World Cup also in 1992. Can you describe your feelings of that World Cup victory? Where were you and how were you watching the final?

When that 92 WC happened, I was only 6 years old so I only remember how my father, uncles and elder cousins were celebrating the victory but I got glued to cricket in 96 WC.

Do you remember the first time you watched a match live? If yes, which was the stadium and which match was going on at that time?

Well unfortunately I have never seen a game live, decided to go for Pak and SL test series recently and for PSL games in Rawalpindi but Bewafa friends…

I hope you get to watch a match live, I am sure Cricket is slowly resuming there again. Do you think we will get to see teams like England, Australia even Windies touring there in near future?

Can’t think of any reason of Eng, Aus, SA to not tour Pak after successful completion of series vs SL, WI, World XI, Zim, and obviously full fledge season of PSL with all the big international stars coming and playing for a month long tournament as well. Once bigger teams come and international teams coming regularly we will again produce more big players as we have had throughout our cricketing history.

When we talk about Pakistan and it’s Cricket, we often talk about the great Imran Khan who has been the World Cup winning captain as well, or Wasim Akram the left arm legend, or Shoaib Akhtar who is also known as Rawalpindi Express, so in your opinion what makes Pakistan fast bowlers different from others. Is it the pitch/conditions or is it the mindset? What makes them produce fearfless bowlers?

I think when we started in 1952 (our debut test series) vs Ind, from that point we saw likes of Fazal Mahmood and Khan Muhammad throughout 1950s showed their class and played crucial role in test victories of Pak in 1950s, just to give it statistical touch, Pak is the only nation to have won 1 test from each of our first three away tours Lucknow, The Oval, Port of Spain. And we were unbeaten in our first 11 home tests winning 5 of them and Fazal especially played a huge part in that so it sort of continued throughout, also the pitches as well due to flatness of wkts bowlers had to depend on pace and old ball swing to dismiss the oppositions. As you also talked about mindset so after 1950s heroic status got by Fazal and Co the mindset was made from that point onwards.

Let’s talk about the recent events. 2017Champions Trophy, Y’all somehow managed to defeat South Africa first via D/L method I guess, then Sri Lanka and then England in Semi Final. We will talk about the Final later, but talk me through the road to the finale.

After that 1st game vs Ind in group stage, it felt like a lost course tbh but that SA game gave us hope, the way team responded vs SA was great to see and then against SL after very good bowling effort and gkod start with the bat our batters did Pakistani thing and later on Sarfraz played that great innings to see us through alongwith Amir so after that we really started to believe. Against Eng in SF we were underdogs and Eng alongwith Ind were favorites to win the title but our bowlers on a slowish wkt completely dominated Eng and batsmen ensured an easy win for us.

After that loss to Pakistan, Eoin Morgan said that it wasn’t fair of ICC to provide us a used pitch specially for a tournament like Champions Trophy, do you think it was justified what he said? Do you agree with his point of view?

It wasn’t a bilateral series, it was an ICC event so his complain wasn’t worth it, it wasn’t ICC’s fault that they played on flat roads for last 2 years in England

Talk about the much anticipated Final between arch rivals India, did you think yall had a chance before the match began? Did you ever imagine that Pakistan would dominate that match and literally bully India tbh ?

We all thought that Pak’s best chance of winning is to bowl first as we have had success in last 3 games chasing, when we lost the toss I thought it will be tough, our batting isn’t strong enough to post 250+ to challenge strong Ind batting lineup but that No ball and then Fakhar played innings of his life. Even after 330+ thought Ind is good at chasing but that terrific Amir’s spell ensured Ind were way behind in the game and ultimately that victory. And that was a great moment because I said to myself, WC na sahi CT me tou hara diya haha.

Pakistan vs India rivalry. Tell me about your favourite matches between these two teams and also what makes this rivalry give competition to that of Ashes between England and Australia?

1st test series that I witnessed between arch rivals was that 1999 series in Ind and what a thriller it was, that Chennai test has to be one of the best of all time so obviously it is my most favorite as well. 2004 another cracking series, 5 years long wait came to an end and we saw 3 exciting tests and 5 thrilling ODIs and after that 2004 series we saw 3 test series in 3 years which was great advent for sport in general but none after that 2007 test series which is a shame, I hope in near future we keep all differences aside and once again have Indo Pak series regularly which will be great advent for sport.
In comparison to Ashes we have had one sided Ashes series in 90s and early 2000s as well, so I don’t think it’s any lesser with regards to competition to Ashes

Let’s create a Dream 11 between both these teams combined – Pakistan as well as India. You can add how many ever players from any team you like.

It’s tough with the amount of talent these two great cricketing nations have produced but let me try

Sunil Gavaskar
Saeed Anwar
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
Javed Miandad
Imran Khan (C)
MS Dhoni
Kapil Dev
Wasim Akram
Waqar Younis
Abdul Qadir

12th Man
Shoaib Akhtar/Anil Kumble

Right, so final question but it will be divided in two parts, just in short tell me in your words what you think about Babar Azam. And also how he is going to fare against England in these conditions.

When he came to bat at Pindi Cricket Stadium in 1st test of SL series, the standing ovation that he got from the crowd can’t be described in words, the whole crowd was chanting ‘Babar, Babar, Babar….’, this is what he means to us Pakistani cricket fans, he is that superstar, the marquee player that we were looking for a long time
Regarding Eng series expectations are huge which can be a bit unfair on him especially considering the struggling top order that we have, I hope he can have a series in access of 300 for Pak to stand a chance.

What do you think how the series will fare. Predictions?

My heart says 2-1 Pak
My mind says 2-1 Eng
But we should listen to what heart says sometimes as well

There you go, that’s Khurram Aziz for you. A true passionate fan with abundance of knowledge of Pakistan Cricket and definitely will continue to support them in the future as he is here to stay. You guys can go follow him on Twitter – @khurramaziz123 . The best part for me in this interview is how he eductaed me on the history of Pakistan Cricket when asked about how Pakistan produces fearless bowlers, it’s these kind of interactions that make me want to interview more and more fans and get to know more about the sport that we so dearly love. My last post, which was my first post of this series, received over 200 views so I would like to thank each and every one of them for reading the article. Stay tuned as plenty of stuff is in store for y’all, plenty of more interviews yet to come, and plenty of knowledge to be gained. Follow me on Twitter – @bhavsarj2_0

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