Mushtaq was one of Pakistan’s most successful off-spinners

Taking 208 Test wickets, along with 288 in ODIs, Saqlain Mushtaq was one of Pakistan’s most revered off-spinners, and still is to this day.

I had the privilege of interviewing the legend himself, and he gave some highly insightful answers.

Bimal Mirwani: You were one of the best exponents of the doosra, how do you rate that of Saeed Ajmal’s?

Saqlain Mushtaq: He is very good. Its all about deceiving the batsmen and taking wickets. I think he’s been very successful and an asset for the Pakistan Cricket Team so far and I wish him all the best for the future.

Mushtaq giving some pointers to Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal

Bimal Mirwani: What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the current Pakistan cricket team?

Saqlain Mushtaq: Our strengths are the talent, passion and fearlessness that every player brings in abundance to the table. We are unpredictable, we take risks and have miles and miles of heart to do so. Our weakness is that there isn’t consistency in the team, always chopping and changing etc. We should also play as a team rather than as individuals.

Bimal Mirwani: What would you consider to be your most memorable bowling performance during your international career?

Saqlain Mushtaq: There are a few I remember with a sentimental smile; Chennai Test 1999 (where he took 10 wickets in total, resulting in a very tight 12 run victory for Pakistan against India) being the most prominent, I suppose. The amazing people of Chennai’s reaction after the last wicket was heart-warming. It made the experience all that more memorable.

Mushtaq played a vital role in helping Pakistan register a memorable win over long time rivals India

Bimal Mirwani: Who do you feel has the brightest prospect in the current Pakistan team and why?

Saqlain Mushtaq: All of the newcomers are immensely talented and I believe they all have a bright future ahead of them.

Bimal Mirwani: What would be your top tip for any struggling off-spinner?

Saqlain Mushtaq: It depends on what he or she is struggling with. But in general, I would say to just keep practicing in the nets. Practice makes perfect. But make sure to have proper rest also, and let your body recuperate etc.

Bimal Mirwani: Which was your favourite cricket ground to play at during your international cricket career and why?

Saqlain Mushtaq: Gaddafi Stadium (Lahore, Pakistan), I always felt at home there and Lords, because it has so much history and to play there is every kid’s dream.

Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium has always felt like home to Mushtaq

Bimal Mirwani: Do you think the growing number of Twenty20 tournaments around the world is damaging the reputation of Test cricket?

Saqlain Mushtaq: No, you cannot really damage something that’s so integral to cricket. T20 is a great format for entertaining and crowd pleasing purposes. Its fun to play, too! But ‘Test Cricket’ – its all in the name. It test’s a cricketer’s quality, temperament, the ability to judge a situation and adapt accordingly etc. whereas T20’s are more of a bish-bash-bosh sort of a thing, which is great if you’re looking for entertainment and a result in 3 hours! They are two completely separate formats of the game and should be treated as such; If test cricket does not damage nor does it uplift the reputation of T20 cricket, then vice-versa.

Bimal Mirwani: How do you feel about Pakistan not hosting an international cricket tour in over 3 years?

Saqlain Mushtaq: It saddens me because I believe that the people of Pakistan want to watch cricket live, in the stadiums. The people of Pakistan are warm-welcoming and loving towards their guests, but its just unfortunate that they are being deprived of it all. I hope things clear up soon and hopefully we will have cricket back in Pakistan.

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