Considered a key all-rounder in the shorter-formats for Pakistan, Imad Wasim has established himself as an integral part of the Limited-Overs sides since his international debut in 2015. With 45 wickets to his name in T20Is and an excellent economy-rate of 6.15, Imad is very likely to play a vital role in Pakistan's ICC T20 World Cup campaign in 2021.
In an interview with PakPassion.net, Imad spoke about his recent experience in the bio-secure environment and why he feels Pakistan could have won the T20I series against England, the importance of a potential tour of Pakistan by England, his experience of playing under the captaincy of Babar Azam and Pakistan's chances of winning next year's ICC T20 World Cup.
By Saj Sadiq (23rd September, 2020)
PakPassion.net: How was the experience of being in a bio-secure bubble for over two months in England?
Imad Wasim: Well I never for a minute expected that I would come to England and stay in a bio-secure bubble for nearly 2 and a half months. It was very different, strange at times and very unusual compared to normal tours.
PakPassion.net: Did it feel like a long two and a half months and how did you keep yourself motivated and entertained during the tour?
Imad Wasim: To be honest, it felt like we spent a very long time in this tough bio-secure environment. There were of course a lot of practice sessions and I felt that we bonded as a group really well and we probably got the chance to talk to each other more than we would normally on a tour. As far as non-cricket activities are concerned, rather than going to our own rooms and sitting on our own which would have been soul-destroying, we spent a lot of time as a group sitting in the team rooms, we played a lot of FIFA, played cards and table-tennis.
PakPassion.net: It must have felt really strange being out there on the field on match days, especially without any crowds or atmosphere to look forward to?
Imad Wasim: We obviously missed the atmosphere and the great support we always get from our fans in England, but at the same time it was important that in these extraordinary times, the safety protocols were followed and no risks were taken. It felt strange and difficult, but we had to be professional about it, and I hope that things improve, and we don’t have to play much more cricket in empty stadia in future.
PakPassion.net: Was 1-1 result a fair outcome in the Twenty20 series against England?
Imad Wasim: I feel that had the first match of the series been completed, there would have been a different outcome and I’m pretty sure that we would have come away with a 2-1 victory in this series. Whilst to others the first match appeared to be in the balance when it ended, I felt that it was tilted towards us and I think we would have wrapped up a victory in that game if the weather had not intervened.
PakPassion.net: Tom Banton looked quite impressive during the Twenty20 series against England. He looks a fine prospect, doesn’t he?
Imad Wasim: Tom Banton’s a very fine player and everyone is getting to know that now. He played very well in the Big Bash League and various other Twenty20 leagues and his reputation is growing. He’s one of a number of very fine future batting prospects for England who are a seriously good white ball team.
PakPassion.net: You’re playing for Nottinghamshire once again in the Twenty20 Blast. What are your aims in this competition?
Imad Wasim: I prefer to stick with the same Twenty20 franchises as I feel comfortable in that environment and feel relaxed as I know the people around me. It wasn’t a difficult decision when Nottinghamshire wanted to sign me up again. They’re a great bunch of guys, it’s a good dressing-room to be in and the plan has to be to win the Twenty20 Blast this year.
PakPassion.net: There have been some positive messages regarding a tour of England by Pakistan possibly in 2022. From your perspective what would it mean to see England tour Pakistan?
Imad Wasim: International cricket has been revived and is now back for good in Pakistan, which is fantastic news for the players, the Pakistan Cricket Board and for fans. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has been played entirely in Pakistan this year very successfully, and some of the English players played in Pakistan during the PSL. So, I see no reason at all why England cannot tour Pakistan. They are a big team, one of the world’s strongest teams in all formats and are very entertaining too. I am certain that the crowds who have been starved of international cricket in Pakistan in recent times will love to see them playing in local stadiums. I am hopeful that the tour will happen and we are really looking forward to welcoming them to Pakistan, hosting them and to provide them with great facilities to make it a memorable tour for all.
PakPassion.net: You have over the years become dependable with the ball and a versatile option for any captain. How do you see your progression as a bowler?
Imad Wasim: In my mind I just think about the pride and joy of playing cricket as a profession. It’s a career that many people dream of pursuing and I feel that I am very lucky to be a cricketer. I just want to grab every opportunity I can to perform. Whether the captain wants me to bowl in the first over, during the power-play, the 10th over or in the last few overs, I have to be ready to deliver my best. Sometimes you go for runs, other days you will get wickets, but that’s part of life, but you have to be up for any challenge that is thrown at you.
PakPassion.net: As a spinner, what’s going through your mind when you are bowling during the power-play overs?
Imad Wasim: Well there aren’t many spinners around the world who are comfortable or enjoy bowling during the power-play overs or in the death overs. I am sure they would rather prefer to bowl in the middle-overs. But I like the challenges that are thrown at me and when I am asked to do something outside of my comfort zone. It gives me more game-awareness and teaches me things that I would not learn if I was just bowling in the middle-overs. Cricket is all about progressing and learning and you won’t do that unless you are thrown into different situations, difficult scenarios and into situations where you are out of your comfort-zone.
PakPassion.net: You’ve shown progress with the bat, is that something that you have been looking to improve?
Imad Wasim: It’s disappointing in a good way that I don’t get many chances to bat especially in T20Is as our batsman have been doing well. I feel this is an area of my game that has definitely improved and I’m looking forward to more opportunities with the bat going forward. I think it’s always a good sign when the lower order doesn’t have to bat very often, but I’m happy with the improvements with the bat and feel that whenever I am given a chance I can perform.
PakPassion.net: You’ve recently spent over 2 months with Mushtaq Ahmed in England. What did you discuss with him regarding your bowling?
Imad Wasim: He was a world-class spinner and is a great coach/mentor. I get along really well with all of the coaching staff and it’s very easy to speak with Mushy bhai and Waqar bhai, they really motivate you and are there to help you. I’m learning to bowl a new kind of delivery which I hope will be ready soon because as a cricketer you are always learning and that’s where the coaching staff really help you. Mushy bhai gives me so much confidence, he wants me to attack, to take wickets and not to be afraid to try different things or to become a defensive bowler. He’s a brilliant coach and mentor.
PakPassion.net: Regarding the coaching staff on the tour of England, was there perhaps too much advice coming at the players from them?
Imad Wasim: No I don’t think so. The coaches minded their own business and stuck to their own areas. It was a very professional set-up and I really enjoyed it. There was not a single mishap or controversy on the tour despite us being in the bubble for so long. The coaching staff were absolutely spot-on in every department and fantastic role-models for the players. They worked really hard with all of us and if you ask any of the players, they will tell you that this was the smoothest tour we have had for a long time.
PakPassion.net: You must be pleased that the remainder of the Pakistan Super League is going to be played in November in Lahore?
Imad Wasim: I’m delighted that it’s been rescheduled and I’m very keen for Karachi Kings to win the tournament this time around. It’s fantastic that the tournament is being played in Pakistan too rather than overseas. I’ve already had messages from many overseas players who are looking forward to getting back to Pakistan and finishing off the tournament.
PakPassion.net: Will it be Karachi Kings’ year to win their first ever Pakistan Super League title?
Imad Wasim: We are really up for it as we were earlier in the year. We had built some good momentum during the PSL earlier this year and it is important to re-build that momentum. Every team is in the same situation regarding re-starting so there can be no excuses and there will be no advantage to any of the teams. It’s just a case of getting back into it and getting going from the first ball. But yes, we would definitely love to win the PSL for the first time.
PakPassion.net: Babar Azam is your captain in the Pakistan white-ball sides, and you are his skipper at Karachi Kings. Does that sometimes cause any complications?
Imad Wasim: No, not at all. We are like brothers and he is a great guy. When he wants advice, he takes it from me and when I want advice from him, he is there to offer that advice to me. There is mutual respect from both of us and we have played enough cricket together over the years to know each other’s game and personality. There is no issue of either of us trying to step on the other’s toes and we are there to help and support each other whenever we need it and to respect each other.
PakPassion.net: On the topic of Babar Azam, he has had some criticism recently regarding his batting and captaincy. Do you think that’s harsh?
Imad Wasim: He’s the leader and the whole team respects him. He’s the best batsman in the world without any doubt. When you are the best batsman in the world, eventually you will be the best captain in the world too. He leads from the front with the bat and he’s started to do that with his captaincy too. I would request everyone who is bashing him to remember that he is young, he is learning, and he will take Pakistan cricket to the next level. We will be there with him and support him with anything he needs inside, or outside the ground.
PakPassion.net: How do you rate Pakistan’s chances for next year’s ICC T20 World Cup tournament?
Imad Wasim: Whilst I do feel that we are a very good Twenty20 side, the fact is that England is a very strong Twenty20 team and one of the world’s best sides in this format. For us there were positive signs recently against England in that we scored over 190 in both innings against them. I feel that we are bowling well, and in my view, we are amongst four teams who could win the tournament alongside England, Australia and India and I am sure we will put up a good show when the tournament takes place.