That’s what he was, is and probably be for Pakistan, now that
he is the Prime Minister!
July 30, 2018 – Arjuna Ranatunga’s team was in Karachi for the 1985-86 series, cricket fever was high and folks here were in anticipation of the 1987 Reliance World Cup! The Sheraton in Karachi was the place to be – where all the action was, and I was commissioned by Imran Aslam, editor of a local evening daily to do a ‘grapevine’ column on the goings on!
Behroze Edulji who was the Administrative Assistant to the General Manager was a former Indian women’s cricket test player so it was natural to have a hotel cricket team and play matches over the weekend. We played a match at the KPI and it embarrassed the noisy Parsi cricketers to be bowled by a Parsi woman – yes, Behroze much to the chagrin of the club’s seasoned stalwarts, scooped a couple of scalps!
At the post match lunch in the cafeteria next day, I proposed that we invite the Pakistan team captain Imran Khan to wear the Sheraton logo! “That’s absurd, how could someone with his popularity, enigma and above all, snob demeanor, heed to our request” said a colleague. But we gave it a shot.
I contacted Sadiq Mohammad, Pakistan’s recently retired opening bat, one of cricket’s famous Mohammad brothers and proposed the idea. “Sure, let me talk to him but it won’t be easy” said Sadiq.
Next day, we got a pleasant surprise when Sadiq walked in with none other than THE KHAN himself! Suave, shy, super-fit and with those seductive looks! Women in the hotel ooed and ahhed as they saw the debonair cricketer, high-society heir, an eligible bachelor, walk up the hotel stairs and straight past their hearts!
In 1985, Sheraton had the only indoor gymnasium (Health Club) and treadmill in town, yes, can you believe it? So we decided to show the facility to Imran and offer the premises to the Pakistan team for fitness rituals. At that time, fitness was more of an outdoor activity, so the offer was turned down.
Hey Imran, “How about wearing our logo during the series?” I asked him bluntly! Sadiq looked at me and said, “It’s not a bad idea, provided you offer us some orange juice”! We walked up from the gym to the GM’s office, made the introductions, explained cricket to Herr Dieter Janssen and gulped orange juice! Once again I requested the supremo, “Will you do it for us, pleeeease?” Whoopi, he agreed! Can you imagine someone with that kind of following; high profile value, sultry looks and world-class performance to his credit would do it for free? He just didn’t ask for any moola, simply obliged!
That’s what he was, is and probably be for Pakistan, now that he is the Prime Minister; put the country and people first.
The next day he was gracious to send over his kit, a pair of trousers and shirts, where on we stitched the Sheraton logo! It was an awesome day and a treasured gift for us, a remarkable home series for Pakistan (the next Sharjah rendezvous came as a bonus) and a global audience for Sheraton’s logo!
A few days later, having watched Imran and the Test-Series on television, the bell boys at the concierge desk, who always had a cunning and cynical remark to make, remarked, “apne tu Pakistan ka badshah, mulk ke wazir-e-azam ko Sheraton logo pinadiya!!”
Such beautiful, memorable and mesmerizing days – prophetic indeed!
(PHOTO AND TEXT COURTESY OF MR. MENIN RODRIGUES, ON KARACHI PAST AND PRESENT ON FACEBOOK: MAY 6 2019)