All-rounder Imad Wasim recently played a pivotal role in Pakistan's ICC T20 World Cup campaign where he once again proved his importance to the side by achieving a superb economy rate of 5.70, in addition to taking 4 wickets. Imad has played 113 times for Pakistan and whilst he has been rested for the upcoming Limited-overs home series against West Indies, he is very likely to make a return to Pakistan colours in the near future.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Imad Wasim spoke about the excitement and pride of winning the game against India in the ICC T20 World Cup, how he hopes India and Pakistan can play bilateral series soon, the experience of interacting with Matthew Hayden, his desire to once again play ODIs for Pakistan, relinquishing the captaincy of Karachi Kings in favour of Babar Azam and working with Saqlain Mushtaq.
By Saj Sadiq (10th December, 2021)
PakPassion.net: How did it feel to play against and comprehensively beat India at the Twenty20 World Cup?
Imad Wasim: It was really good and beating India always provides some special moments for everyone involved in Pakistan cricket. Of course, I enjoyed the occasion and the match, and the result was just perfect. There was pressure on us, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to play against India in a Twenty20 World Cup and I was really grateful for that opportunity.
PakPassion.net: The victory must have felt like a dream?
Imad Wasim: It felt like everything we touched that day turned to gold. Make no mistake India are a very, very good side, but we just outclassed them on the day. The way we played was just fantastic and I would say that it was a near-perfect performance. In fact, I would go so far as to say that what we achieved on that day will be difficult to replicate in the future.
PakPassion.net: The build-up, the match itself, the occasion, the rivalry; India versus Pakistan matches remain special. Do you think they should happen more often?
Imad Wasim: As a player you always want to compete at the highest level and against the best teams which is why these games are so special for us. I feel that being two world-class teams, India and Pakistan should play regularly against each other. But having said that, I also understand that there are political reasons which prevent this from happening. This is sad because sports, especially cricket, can unite nations and I do think that we should have bilateral series between the two countries. Not only will this will be good for the game of cricket, it will be great for both countries and for humanity too.
PakPassion.net: How disappointing was it to lose to Australia in the semi-finals of the ICC T20 World Cup after being unbeaten in the Super 12 stage?
Imad Wasim: It was devastating. The momentum we had and with the talent we had, we should have won the T20 World Cup. Winning and losing is part of cricket, but the outcome of that game was really disappointing. But, at the same time we were really happy with how we played in the tournament. It was really pleasing to see the team gel and showcase their talent and realise their potential. Many people going into the tournament said that we are inconsistent and incapable of performing at a high level regularly, but we showed that we are a very good side and we played a lot of good cricket which I hope we can carry into the next edition of the World Cup where I feel we can go deeper into the tournament and who knows, maybe lift the trophy.
PakPassion.net: What was it like having Matthew Hayden in the dressing room during the T20 World Cup?
Imad Wasim: To me, Matthew Hayden is a superstar. Apart from his knowledge of the game, he is a great human being. It was just fantastic to have him around. He spoke with such sense when he talked about cricket, and we all learnt a lot from him. I’m going to remain in touch with him and use his knowledge to my benefit. He has played at the highest level, won many trophies and he knows how to handle pressure. It was simply brilliant working with him.
PakPassion.net: As a fellow left-hander, did Matthew Hayden offer you any tips regarding your batting?
Imad Wasim: He was keeping a very close eye on all of us in the nets and imparting his knowledge to us. He passed on a few tips my way which have definitely helped me and hopefully I can carry that forward in the future.
PakPassion.net: Do you feel that you don’t get the recognition you deserve, and that people are quick to criticise you?
Imad Wasim: That’s their prerogative and their job and I respect that. There are people who criticise me and there are people who love me. I should love the people who love me, but I should also love the people who criticise me. Maybe those that are criticising me are doing it for my betterment and for the betterment of Pakistan cricket as well. As a cricketer I am happy where I stand now in terms of my career, and I believe that I am still improving in every part of my game.
PakPassion.net: An economy-rate of just 4.88 yet you have only played 55 ODIs with the last one being over a year ago. Is that disappointing for you?
Imad Wasim: Yes, that statistic is disappointing for me as I do want to play ODI cricket regularly as well. I haven’t retired from the format, I’m not tired and neither am I too old for that format. Whilst the selectors may have their opinions, I do believe I can still contribute to the Pakistan One-Day side and achieve a lot in the 50-over format and which I firmly believe I will. I intend to speak with the selectors and let’s see how it goes. I am 100% sure I will play One-Day cricket again. I’ll play in the 50-over domestic tournaments, and I intend to perform well and make a comeback in this format.
PakPassion.net: Has anyone spoken with you about any shortcomings in the 50-Over format?
Imad Wasim: Nobody has spoken with me on this topic. Since the 2019 World Cup I have only played 3 matches and then suddenly I was dropped without any reason. My last 6 scores in the ODI format were 34 not out, 12, 43, 49 not out, 23 and 46 not out and I had taken 5 wickets in my last 5 ODIs at an economy-rate of 5.36. So, I’m trying hard to find a reason for my omission. But my job is to go out there and just perform well and try to make a comeback in this format. There’s a new PCB Chairman in place so who knows, maybe things might improve for me. I am convinced that when he gets to see this type of situation, he will approach the issue from a different angle.
PakPassion.net: The Chief Selector said that you needed to work on a few things when you were dropped for the South Africa and Zimbabwe series. Do you think you have answered him with your performances since being dropped?
Imad Wasim: Whatever was said, was for my betterment and for the betterment of Pakistan cricket. It was his opinion and his thinking at that time. As far as I am concerned, I will keep on improving and doing different things to improve myself such as working on my carrom ball, my bowling in general and on my batting and fielding. The fact is I never took his comments to heart and instead wanted to come back stronger and better. Any criticism directed at me doesn’t ever affect my game or my approach and I actually see it as a challenge for self-improvement.
PakPassion.net: One of the criticisms from the Chief Selector was that you needed to improve your bowling to left-handed batters. Was that a fair point?
Imad Wasim: When I have the ball in my hand, I don’t worry whether it’s left-handed batters or right-handed batters in front of me. I’m a professional cricketer, it doesn’t bother me who I am bowling to. I just have to find a way to bowl to certain batters. What he said was good for me and hopefully you will see me bowling well to both right-handed and left-handed batters.
PakPassion.net: You’ve been rested for the upcoming series against West Indies. Were you feeling tired and in need of a rest?
Imad Wasim: Look, Babar Azam spoke with me about this before they named the squads. They wanted to give a chance to youngsters and rest some of the senior players. Hopefully I’ll be back for the next series after West Indies. I respect the decision, and don’t have any problems with this because if they want to do that then I hope the youngsters perform well in the series against West Indies. Not playing in this series is not the end of the world for me and I’m ok with this decision.
PakPassion.net: Are you surprised at being replaced as the captain of Karachi Kings?
Imad Wasim: It’s alright as I firmly believe that whatever is in my fate will happen. I’m not worried about the decision. If the franchise wants me to play as a player, then I will carry on playing and give my all. There is nothing wrong in giving the captaincy to Babar Azam or whoever the franchise wants as skipper. I’m a professional, if they want me to play just as a player, I will do that, if they want me to captain the side, then I will do that too. I should be able to adapt easily as Babar and I have played a lot of cricket together so there shouldn’t be any problem. The Karachi Kings dressing room has always been a good place and it doesn’t matter if I am a player or captain. To be honest, I feel as if I am a genuine part of the franchise having been there for so long.
PakPassion.net: What are your thoughts on the appointment of Peter Moores as Head Coach of Karachi Kings?
Imad Wasim: It’s brilliant news for us at Karachi Kings as he’s a great guy who understands the demands of modern-day cricket. I’ve worked with him at Nottinghamshire, and it will be great to have him at Karachi Kings and I hope he can guide us to another Pakistan Super League title.
PakPassion.net: What’s it been like to work with Saqlain Mushtaq recently?
Imad Wasim: Regardless of what happens in future in terms of our team management, it must be said that Saqlain Mushtaq is one of only a few guys who understands the psychology of the players. He gives logical reasons for his decisions, and he is one of the best guys I have worked with. The knowledge he has about spin bowling is out of this world. I’ve worked with Mushtaq Ahmed and now Saqlain Mushtaq and both are fantastic coaches who I have learnt a lot of new tricks from. They are excellent coaches too when it comes to the tactical and mental side of the game.
PakPassion.net: How difficult is it to balance playing for one’s country and the lure of franchise cricket around the world?
Imad Wasim: The fact is that franchise cricket has changed the sport’s landscape. However, for me, playing for your country has always been and always will be the priority. No matter what happens, playing for Pakistan is the priority for me. I have always played with dignity and pride for my country and that will never change irrespective of how much franchise cricket is available. Pakistan cricket has given me so much and it is my job to play for my country whenever I am required. Yes, I am available to play franchise cricket around the globe, but my first priority has always been and always will be playing for my country.
PakPassion.net: Looking ahead, what are the plans and targets you have set yourself?
Imad Wasim: Look I’m fit, and certainly not old. I feel that I have a lot of cricket left in me. I’m referred to as a senior player but I’m not senior when it comes to age. I’ve not even thought about retirement or how many years of cricket I have got left. I want to continue playing in the twenty over format and I want to get back into the Pakistan One-day side. When I think it’s time to hang up my boots and retire then I will call it a day and I won’t be one of those players who hangs around and tries to drag their career on. But as of today, I haven’t even thought about retiring. I want to continue playing as long as I am fit and as long as I am an asset to any team I play for and not a liability.