Former captain of the Indian cricket team Sunil Gavaskar has congratulated Imran Khan on assuming the office of prime minister of Pakistan.
In a post in Times of India, the former Indian captain said, “I won’t be able to attend his swearing-in ceremony but my good wishes are with him as he embarks on the greatest challenge of his life. Good luck and God bless, Immy.”
Imran took the oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan in a ceremony that was attended by former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and members of the 1992 World Cup winning team Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raja.
Gavaskar also revealed how Imran challenged him when he wanted to retire.
The former Test greats have faced each other on the cricket ground several times during the 1980s and 90s as the captains of their respective teams, but also share a bond of friendship lasting over several years.
“’You can’t retire now. Pakistan is coming to India next year and I want to beat India in India. If you aren’t part of that team, it won’t be the same. Come on, let’s have one last tilt against each other,’ Imran Khan replied when I told him I planned to retire at the end of the India tour of England,” Gavaskar said.
He added: “I said if the announcement of the tour wasn’t made before the final Test [against England], I would go ahead and announce my retirement from international cricket. The tour was indeed announced in a few days.”
The former Indian great also said that Imran is the only PM who has visited India several times as an ordinary citizen.
“He is the only Prime Minister of Pakistan who has come to India several times as an ordinary citizen and has interacted not only with the high societal types but also the man on the street who met him as a fan. He should, therefore, be well aware that most Indians would want him to succeed as a Prime Minister and usher in a new era of friendship, and look forward not back,” he said.
Gavaskar was was one of the three cricketers from India invited to attend the PM’s swearing-in ceremony, along with Sidhu and Kapil Dev.
However, Gavaskar had declined Imran’s invite due to his commentary commitments for the ongoing Test series between England and India.