The 70s and early 80s was the most productive and successful period in the history of Pakistan hockey. Pakistan hockey team was on the medal list in almost every major championship and had established itself as a force to reckon with.
Sialkot born Shahnaz Sheikh was one of the legendary players of that time. Shahnaz Sheikh played as a forward and with winged feet and deceptive body swerve was the opponents’ worst nightmare. Fast, accurate and strong he together with his other team mates made Pakistan a tough team. Shahnaz was capped 68 times and has 45 goals to his credit. His absence from the team due to injury in the mid 70s caused Pakistan two losses in the finals of the World Cup and the Montreal Olympics.
After retiring as a player, he coached the Pakistan Junior Hockey team which went on to win the Junior Asia Cup. His similar efforts with the senior team however failed miserably. Despite his failures in coaching in certain occasions, Shahnaz Sheikh is considered as one of the best and most aggressive hockey players Pakistan ever had. Shahnaz Sheikh had a commendable fighting spirit when on the ground. His performance was always above average in the time he played professional hockey for Pakistan.
Imran Khan is one of the finest cricketers of Pakistan. He has the honor of bringing the World Cup home in 1992 as he was the captain of the victorious team.
Imran Khan was basically a fast bowler; his association with the Australian Kerry Packers honed his bowling skills and speed. Imran later perfected his batting and in the later stage of his career emerged as an all-rounder; deadly with the ball, lethal with the bat. He could effectively swing the ball and deliver deadly bouncers to scare his opponents. With Imran on one end and fellow fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz at the other, Pakistan always stood a chance of a comprehensive victory.
Although Imran has bowled well throughout his career but captaincy brought out the best in him. He is one of the most successful captains of Pakistan. Under his captaincy, Pakistan won the series against England on the English soil with Imran Khan excelling with 10 wickets for 77 runs in the decisive Healingley match. Pakistan managed to draw series against West Indies who at that time annihilated their opponents completely. His team was also victorious against arch rivals India on many occasions. The climax of Imran’s career remains the victory in the 1992 World Cup Tournament. Pakistan emerged as underdogs to clinch the crystal trophy. Imran Khan announced his retirement from cricket after the World Cup and concentrated on the building of a cancer charity hospital; the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital named after his mother who lost her life battling against the deadly disease.
Imran Khan was always in the news for some reason or the other. His charismatic personality won him many female fans. Imran married an English girl half his age in 1995. The couple had two sons but sadly could not live happily ever after mostly due to the yawning cultural gap between the two.
Imran has received Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Pakistani civilian award), the President’s Pride of Performance Award and many other awards and honors. He has been inducted in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame and stands 8th on the list of all time greats of the ESPN Legends of Cricket. Imran is one of the eight all-rounders of the world to have achieved the Triple in Tests matches with 3807 runs and 362wickets.
Imran Khan later turned to politics and launched Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, a political party with the aim of redressing the grievances of the Pakistani people.