Imran Abdullah Khan Niazi is a Pakistani cricketer turned politician. Pakistan Tehereek-e Insaaf a party founded by Khan in 1996 won the recently 11th National Assembly elections in Pakistan. Khan is now all set to become the next Prime Minister of the Islamic nation.
Who is Imran Khan?
Imran Khan was born on 5th of October 1952 in an upper-middle-class Pashtun family. His mother belonged to Pashtun tribe of Burki, which had produced several successful cricketers in Pakistan history. Belonging to a privileged background Khan received education from Aitchison’s college in Lahore and then in Royal Grammar School Worcester in England, where he excelled at cricket. He graduated from Keble College, Oxford in 1975 where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
International Cricket Debuts
In 1969-70, Imran started his first-class journey at the age of sixteen, when he made his debut for Lahore. From 1973-1975, he featured for Worcester school and Oxford Blue’s. In county cricket, he was known as a recognised medium pacer, while playing for Worcestershire.
Khan made his test debut against England in 1971 at Birmingham. In that match, after putting massive 608 runs in the first innings, Pakistan bowled out the home side for just 353 runs and imposed a follow-on. Khan bowled for 23 overs in the first innings with an economy rate of just 1.5 runs per over.
Both of Imran's maiden Test and ODI wickets came against England, during Pakistan's 1974 tour at the latter's backyard. Imran picked up two wickets in the second Prudential Trophy ODI at Birmingham. In the same tour, he also picked up first two Test scalps against the same side.
In the ODI, Imran bowled English batsman Mike Denness in the third ball of his over, thus registering his first ODI wicket. Denness placed the first ball right to the fielder. The second delivery left by Mike just missed the stumps. Imran bowled a quicker third one to hit the leg stump.
The Breakthrough spell and Captaincy
Imran got worldwide recognition after his magnificent spell in Sydney against Australia in 1977. He took 12-165 in 46 overs in that match which helped Pakistan register an eight-wicket win over the hosts.
After that superb spell, Imran got featured in the Kerry Packer's World Series while Pakistan cricket got world recognition.
In 1982, Imran shot to fame with 62 Test wickets which included five five-wicket hauls including the two in England. Khan took 7 wickets in exchange of 52 runs in the first innings of the first Test at Birmingham, while he got five wickets in the second innings of the last game of the three-match series.
He finished the tour with 21 wickets with an economy rate of 2.18 runs per over. The exceptional bowling figures sealed Khan's captaincy bid for the Pakistan cricket team.
The then 30-year-old skipper also played some memorable innings with the bat. He scored 3807 runs in 88 Test matches. His career best was 139 against Australia in Adelaide in 1990.
In ODIs, he made 3709 runs in 151 innings at an average of 34 runs. His best was 103 not out in 1983 against Srilanka at Leeds in Prudential World Cup. The decade in which Khan’s leadership skills made Pakistan one of the top Cricket teams in the world.
World Cup Winning Captain
Imran was the captain till his international retirement in the year 1992. It was the 50-over World Cup that year, which took his captaincy to a legendary level. The tournament was the first one to witness the Coloured jerseys, a white ball, and day-night ODI matches under floodlights.
The interesting fact about the Pakistan team which played the tournament was its selection.
Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Inzamam-ul-Haq, the three crucial players of the Pakistan side were chosen by Imran himself. The team which he made for the showpiece tournament, went on to win 23 Test series and 12 ODI series in the next ten years and became one of the best teams in the international cricket.
In the first five matches, the team won only once against Zimbabwe. After losing four matches, including the one against arch-rivals India, the team had very little qualification chances for the second round. Khan led the team in successive victories against Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka.
In the tournament finale at Melbourne, Pakistan was taking on England and Imran showed his all-rounder skills. The Pakistan captain stitched a 139-run partnership with Javed Miandad.
Chasing a target of 250 runs the English team needed 23 runs in the final over. Imran took the responsibility and decided to bowl.
First ball-tailender RK Illingworth moved away from the stumps to flick the ball coming on to leg stump. A four in the deep square leg. Next one was a slow delivery on the off side-- Illingworth got out of the crease to go for a six, but an outside edge landed the ball in the hands of Ramiz Raja on the mid off, and Pakistan lifted their maiden World Cup trophy.
The whole Pakistani team bowed down on the ground. Miandad hugged Imran. The Pakistan skipper kissed the Crystal trophy and said adieu to cricket.