For Imran Farhat, the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) is an opportunity not to be wasted. The left-handed opener, who scored a half-century for the Uthura Rudras in their first match, feels the tournament is a challenge for the 25-odd Pakistan players playing in the event.
Being a cricketer from the neighbouring country, the chat soon turned to the bilateral series in December (three One-day Internationals and two T20s). And Imran could hardly contain his excitement. “You know, as players, we’ve always wanted to play in India. We look forward to going there and performing,” he smiles, going down the memory lane.
After all, his maiden Test century came against India at Lahore in 2004. You could even hear the excitement in his voice as he recalled taking a single off Lakshmipathy Balaji to celebrate his first ton.
So, don’t such bilateral matches create pressure? “Oh very much!” he responds. “Such matches make us feel our careers are on the line. The fans not only back home but all over the world want to see us perform against India,” Imran says matter-of-factly.
“Recently, fans back home have been disappointed that our home and away ties have been played away. We’ve always shared a very good relationship with India players. Sure, we may have had some disagreements on the field, but as soon as the match ends, we are all friends again. We all chat, go out for dinners… We’ve been missing the camaraderie,” he sighs.
With the ICC World T20 to be held in the island in September, Imran feels this SLPL experience would be crucial. “The various players here — from West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka — are all getting used to the conditions. It certainly would help them during the mega-event,” he says before signing off.
The writer's trip has been sponsored by Uthura Rudras