Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan, who was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan on August 18, have been fast friends. Imran Khan had invited Sunil Gavaskar to the ceremony as well, along with Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu; but Gavaskar decline owing to his commentary commitments.
On the occasion of Imran Khan’s achievement, Sunil Gavaskar reminisced about how a challenge thrown by Imran Khan kept him from retiring in 1986. In his column in Times of India, Sunil Gavaskar recalls his meeting with Imran Khan in London in 1986 and telling him about his plans for retirement after India’s tour of England in 1986.
“‘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 wrote in the column.
“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,” Gavaskar wrote.
Pakistan and India played 5 Tests in that series and after the first four Tests were drawn, Pakistan beat India at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore by 16 runs, despite a brilliant 96 by Sunil Gavaskar himself, as India chased 220 runs on a square turner on which Pakistani off-spinner Iqbal Qasim was turning balls at right angles.
It proved to be the last Test in the illustrious career of Sunil Gavaskar, who retired with 10,122 runs (the most at the time) in 125 Tests with a then world record 34 centuries to his name. He had reached the 10,000 run milestone in the same Test series as well, becoming the first man to achieve the feat.
“Pakistan won the last and final Test of that series after the earlier Tests were all drawn and thus beat India for the first time in India,” Gavaskar added.
Gavaskar praised Imran’s captaincy in the 1992 World cup in Australia-New Zealand, which Pakistan won by defeating England in the finals.
“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 wrote.
Gavaskar said that most Indians want Imran to succeed as Pakistani PM.
“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 wrote.
(with TOI inputs)