The for­mer crick­eter says it is be­cause the Pak­istan cricket team is not as strong as it used to be

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - An­juri Na­yar Singh an­­yar@hin­dus­tan­

As Pak­istan team is go­ing through a tran­si­tion phase, they are not able to give a con­sid­er­able fight to In­dia SHOAIB AKHTAR, FOR­MER CRICK­ETER

Pak­istani crick­eter Shoaib Akhtar, once revered as the Rawalpindi Ex­press on the pitch, feels that fans don’t find the In­dia-Pak­istan matches as in­tense as they used to be­fore, be­cause the games aren’t nail-bit­ing any­more. “I don’t think that in­ten­sity has gone down. Per­haps, the games are not as com­pet­i­tive as they used to be. Ear­lier, you would have a lot of close games, but I think as Pak­istan team is go­ing through a tran­si­tion phase, they are not able to give a con­sid­er­able fight to In­dia. That is the rea­son that fans feel it is not as in­tense,” he says.

How­ever, the for­mer crick­eter, who played for Pak­istan from 1997 to 2011, is hope­ful. “With Pak­istan get­ting a new coach in Mickey Arthur and chair­man of se­lec­tors in In­za­mam-ul Haq, things will look up sooner than later. Once that hap­pens, you will see more com­pet­i­tive Indo-Pak­istan en­coun­ters,” says the 40-year-old.

Many feel that cricket of­ten over­shad­ows achieve­ments of other sportsper­sons and gets more im­por­tance, but Akhtar feels that a sport will be in news de­pend­ing on its suc­cess. “You have to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics and de­mo­graph­ics of this phe­nom­ena. I can talk about Pak­istan where we had world class Hockey team and Squash play­ers. They got their due, but then cricket was in news more of­ten. It could be be­cause of the suc­cess that Pak­istan got in cricket, for peo­ple look up to suc­cess sto­ries,” he says.

Akhtar adds that crick­eters of­ten be­come idols for the young gen­er­a­tion, which sparks an in­ter­est in the sport. “When I was young, I used to watch the great Im­ran Khan run like a Pan­ther and bowl his swingers. I wanted to be like him... run fast, my hair flow­ing and bowl quick. It is the same now. These days young crick­eters want to be the next Wasim Akram or Waqar You­nis,” he says.


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