Pakistan cricket and the thought of food

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times

Author 2019-09-19 11:34:28

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To ‘eat or not to eat’, that is the most trending topic in Pakistan cricket nowadays. Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed though will feel let down, or rather get the feeling he has been put out to dry. Now, that is exactly what has triggered the problem. Old captain, batting mainstay not too long ago and now the chief selector and head coach rolled into one, Misbah-ul-Haq has delivered his first edict. And it is causing lot of rumbling, one is sure at least in the stomach.

Misbah was a fit almost-43 when he played his last Test, in 2017. And 29 of his 75 Tests came after he had turned 40. He was feted for his fitness and focus, but he doesn’t seem to be to type to waltz into the sunset. And that has left players with rumbling tummies. Not happy with how the Pakistan national team members present themselves, he has directed that those tasty dishes will go off the menu in the dressing room. Not just for the Pakistan team, across domestic cricket too.

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This is what happens when your team is not winning against your fiercest opponent, at a World Cup no less, and as skipper you produce a yawn of contentment. Shoaib Akhtar has blamed Sarfraz’s BMI more than once, but it is just as well that the fast bowler with a rubbery elbow is retired and grumpy (during prime time for sure, encouraged by growing popularity).

A fan accusing Sarfaraz of eating “pizza and burger” was an unkind cut no doubt, leaving him with a rumbling tummy ahead of the big India World Cup tie at Old Trafford. But who thought Misbah too couldn’t stomach it.

No oily biryani, red meat or sweet dishes must be cruel. It’s like the International Cricket Council ruling that the sub-continent batsmen can’t play wristy shots! There is a sneaking suspicion that Virat Kohli is to be blamed, leading the way and all that with fitness, yo-yo and those gym clips on Twitter.

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While the grumbling Pakistan players sweat it out in the camp as tyrant Misbah checks each dish with an oilo-meter, it would be interesting to know what his predecessor thinks of all this hoopla. Inzamam-ul-Haq, he of running-is-a-pain fame, was cast off as chief selector with the World Cup, with the boos still ringing for another loss to India.

Inzy, a master of timing the cricket ball who epitomised Pakistan’s amateur spirit—entertaining with skill alone while the so-called professionals in other countries subsist on efficiency—conjured the ‘Misbah’ spirit ahead of the 2003 World Cup in southern Africa.

The man who taught the world how to negotiate a run, while winning the 1992 World Cup as a tyro, was a barely distinguishable size zero—okay, somewhere close to that—after going on a crash diet before launching the campaign. As the tournament ended, Inzy was left with a huge appetite for sure. The runs dried up as Pakistan bowed out early from the tournament with Inzy looking to regain the balance lost due to weight loss, of course dreaming of the succulent pieces of meat in his biryani.

Sri Lanka are due to play Pakistan in their den. Starved of home internationals—no pun intended—the islanders will hope they won’t be lambs for slaughter against the hungry Sarfaraz and Co.

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