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,” says Akhtar, who will be judging comedy show Mazaak Mazaak Mein alongside cricketer Harbhajan Singh.
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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