Debasis Sen, Edgbaston: Mushtaq Mohammad aged just 17 years 82 days made a Test hundred and became the youngest Test centurion ever, a record that lasted almost 40 years till Mohammad Ashraful scored a hundred on debut against Sri Lanka. In an exclusive interview with www.xtratime.in , Mushtaq discussed about India’s chances in England, Virat Kohli’s excellence as a batsman and Imran Khan’s victory to become the new Pakistani Prime Minister and its future consequences in the Indo-Pak relationship. Here goes the interaction:
XT: Who is the favourite to win the series?
Mushtaq: We all know that whenever India plays cricket comes to life. A lot of supporters follow the Indian cricket team anywhere in the World. They are a very attractive side and I can say specially their batting is a treat to watch. Now they have come to England to play against them in a five-match Test series. I think it will be very interesting. The weather here is not cold and wet, that’s why it will support the Indian spinners a lot. They will get a turning wicket to bowl on if the matches last for five days. But if you say who is going to win it one can only assume that England is favourite to win it as they are playing at home. They are more accustomed with the conditions here and they have a very good seam bowling attack as well. On the flip side of it India has a very good batting line-up with Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and others. If they can manage to score a big total in the first innings, they have a very good chance of winning a Test match here.
XT: Kohli had scored only 134 runs in 10 innings during his last outing in England. Do you think he will succeed this time?
Mushtaq: I think he should be more determined in England this time. He is currently the World’s one of the best batsmen and if he wants to lift up his reputation, he has to prove his worth everywhere. I think this is the second or third time that he is getting another chance to score on England pitch against the top English fast bowlers. He has got an opportunity to score a century on a green top just like Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar did during their time. He is a world class cricketer and he should lead his team here from front. Kohli needs to score a lot of runs here and prove that yes he is the number 1 batsman in the World.
XT: What are the qualities in Kohli that impressed you the most?
Mushtaq: His ability of playing attacking cricket is a treat to watch. When you see him play in IPL is a different ball game. One has to play attacking shots there all the time. But while playing ODIs and Tests he can change his game according to the situations. In the ODIs you got more chances of building an innings and I think a player like Virat Kohli’s ability shouldn’t face any problem and he has proved that as well. But now we are talking about Test matches which are a different ball game. It’s a five-day game and it’s a test of all the abilities that you have got. Your temperament, your batting ability, your stroke making and your mental approach will be tested here and if you succeed all these, it will make you a complete batsman.
XT: What could be the three key points for India to win a Test series here after 2007?
Mushtaq: It’s very simple. You need to bat well and put a lot of runs on the board which will give a lot of confidence to your bowlers. Beside that you need to bowl well and field well. Most importantly you need to hold your catches. If you do well in all these three departments you will have a great chance to win the series.
XT: Beside the Test series, we all know that Imran Khan was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan last week. What are your expectations from him?
Mushtaq: You just said when he played for the nations he led from the front and he always believed in himself. We all know that he won the World Cup for Pakistan but that is about his cricket. Now he is a politician. I think in my view he will implement the same strategy, same thinking he used do while playing cricket. And if you ask me I will say that this is the best thing that ever happened to Pakistan.
XT: Do you think after Imran’s arrival the cricketing tie among the two neighbouring countries will improve?
Mushtaq: Yes of course it will. There always has been a healthy competition between the two countries. Beside that the players as well likes to play against each other. They are best of the friends off the field. Even during my time when we played against India, we made good friends. The people are eagerly waiting for the resumption of the bilateral series between the two nations and I hope it comes soon.