Some of Pakistan’s greatest and most respected sport personalities have extended their support to their men’s national cricket team by wishing them luck in the ICC World Test Championship fixtures against England, which commence at Old Trafford next week.
Led by the best of the best, Jahangir Khan, these renowned and universally acclaimed sportspersons participated in the 24th edition of the PCB Podcast to rally behind Azhar Ali’s side, which will be playing competitive cricket for the first time since March and amidst unprecedented and challenging Covid-19 conditions.
Jahangir Khan, the 10-time British Open and six-time World Open squash champion, said: “I can imagine how difficult it must have been to prepare and remain focused during the Covid-19 pandemic. England series has always been tough and the absence of the supporters will add to the challenge. But, I am sure the team will play with a fighting spirit and return favourable results. I, along with fans, wish the team luck for this tour.”
Shahbaz Ahmed Snr, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist and 1994 World Cup winner, said: “My wishes are with the team. Pakistan cricket has a huge fan following in the world and in the current scenario, when the masses are staying at home, the resumption of sports activities will provide great entertainment to the people.”
Aisam-ul-Haq, the only Pakistan tennis player to reach Grand Slam finals in the doubles events in 2010, said: “I am really excited for Pakistan’s upcoming series against England. I wish our boys in green all the best. I hope they play with a lot of passion and make us all proud.”
Kiran Khan, an Olympic swimmer who also won seven gold medals in the 2001 National Games, said: “Making a comeback in the game and expecting the same performance is not guaranteed after Covid-19 from any player. This is the time, when the fans need to come forward to encourage the players. I wish our team the best and urge the fans to support the team.”
Mohammad Asif, a two-time world snooker champion, said: “The revival of cricket sets stage for other sporting events to resume soon. I wish Pakistan cricket team all the best for their series against England. We are optimistic that this pandemic will end soon and look forward to represent our country again.”
Wrestler Inam Butt, who won the 2010 and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold, said: “During this pandemic, the Pakistan Cricket Board has taken a great initiative to send our cricket team to England. This series, during this challenging time, is no less than a gift for fans. My wishes are with the team and I urge fans to pray for their success.”
Mahoor Shehzad, who won the 2019 Pakistan International Badminton tournament, said: “My best wishes are with Pakistan cricket team for the upcoming tour of England in August. This is a joyous moment for us that our team is featuring again in competitive cricket and I am hopeful our players will give top performances. Although, we won’t be there for our team physically at the stadium, but our prayers are with them.”
Saddam Hussain, captain of the Pakistan men’s national football team, said: “This pandemic has affected people and sports badly. All sportsmen have to go through a difficult phase during this time. The Pakistan Cricket Board has taken a brilliant initiative to send the men’s team to England. My best wishes are with the team and I hope they perform well in the series. I wish and pray that other sports activities will resume in the country soon.”
Syeda Mahpara, Pakistan women’s national football team goalkeeper, said: “It is very difficult for any athlete to return to their 100 per cent right away after such a long gap. In this challenging time, I urge all cricket lovers to support our team so it boosts their morale. I wish all the best to the men in green.”
Squash players Madina Zafar and Faiza Zafar said: “It is difficult for a player to mark return to the court after a long gap. We wish good luck to the Pakistan team.”