How Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Helped Pakistan World Cup? Why did Sachin Tendulkar listen to Bryan Adams on loop? – Aumag

How Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Helped Pakistan World Cup? Why did Sachin Tendulkar listen to Bryan Adams on loop? – Aumag

This week, Pakistan collectively closed its eyes and swayed to the soul-stirring voice of one qawaal who in his short life had remained true to the ethos of the Sufis ‘music’ be a form of ‘adore’. Music was worship for late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. On his 25th death anniversary, there was the usual retelling of stories of Shahenshah-e-Qawwali in Pakistan.

Nusrat’s voice had the power to transport listeners to a world without worries, appeal to those from other cultures and floor both Bollywood and Hollywood. It would also help Pakistan win the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

This unique sporting brand of cricketing glory stands out from his vast body of musical work. It also explains why most athletes walk around with headphones, teams have theme songs, or why the jumpers want the crowd to clap rhythmically before sprinting towards the pit. Music has the power to help athletes push the limits, but as Nusrat showed, it also helps them be at peace with the complex uncertainties of sport.

How is Nusrat qawali became the thread that Pakistan clung to during their World Cup freefall is part of Pakistan’s cricketing folklore. It was this determination that gave the country its first World Cup and also decades later a cricketer prime minister.

Skipper Imran Khan was the one who had got his team hooked on Nusrat, so much so that the mysterious voice of qawaal would become the constant background score for Pakistan’s historic journey to lift the World Cup.

The story goes that throughout the game, the dressing room would have a Sufi atmosphere, with Nusrat’s ‘Allah Hu, Allah Hu, Allah Hu’ playing on loop. Aamir Sohail would have it on his cassette player and he would take it to the training ground and also the team bus.

Years later, Javed Miandad would say that Nusrat gave them “jazz“. For Rameez, the songs were a communication with “uparwala”.

While Imran’s boys were getting battered and on the verge of being knocked out of the World Cup, the master himself was starting to doubt them. Perhaps he was unaware of his own power.

Back then, it was public knowledge that Nusrat was an integral part of the team’s dressing room. As a result, he also faced flak. Cricket fans from the subcontinent were just themselves, typically unreasonable when their team was down.

In a panic, Nusrat called Imran, his friend and fan. In an interview later in the day, he recalled the conversation. “I called Imran and told him ‘qaum toh aapke saath hume bhi bura keh rahi hai .. ki yeh underplayers qawaaliyan sunne lage aur match haarne lage (The country also blames me for the defeats and says the players are listening qawwali and lost games,” he had said.

In March 1992, Imran was in a zone. He had unreal belief in his team. It seemed as if someone had given him a glimpse of the future. Maybe he shared the script for the finale in advance. Nusrat says Imran actually said not to worry as they were going to win the WC. “We listen to qawwalis every day,” he said.

A few years ago, when Pakistan never tired of going down the ‘1992’ track again, Imran Khan would mention Nusrat in his total recall of the World Cup. He suggested that music as a source of motivation for the entire dressing room was something no one was doing at the time. It was something that kept his team ahead of the curve.

Nusrat’s voice had an otherworldly feel, the devotional tone of his words had a meditative effect and the philosophical essence of the play made cricket defeats insignificant in the larger context of existence. With Nusrat in his ear all day, defeat didn’t mean the end of the world. It always promised a new day waiting to bring in fresh starts.

Although not that meta, other singers have also come to the aid of cricketers who want to keep the mess out of their heads. On an Australian tour, Sachin Tendulkar had scores of 0, 1, 37, 0 and 44. In India, the apocalypse seemed imminent. Even for someone accustomed to dizzying expectations since his days at Shivaji Park, the noise from outside was irritating.

Tendulkar, it is said, listened to Bryan Adams’ Summer of 69 on loop for five days before the Sydney Test, in which he scored an unbeaten 241. It was an agonizing innings. Tendulkar cut back on his shots and failed to hit through the covers. He ‘played until his finger bled’. He wanted to turn back time, and wanted to live the ‘best days of his life’.

From Adams to John Lennon. Arsenal’s most famous manager, Arsene Wenger, would be inspired by the Beatles to strengthen his footballing philosophy. Born in a small French village bordering Germany, Wenger said his place had a “cult of physical exertion”. Even tractors came to his village when he was a teenager. A street footballer until he was 19, he went on to be an eminently modern footballer-thinker.

On the BBC’s iconic show Desert Island Disc, Wenger explained why he chose ‘Imagine’ as one of his songs. “They (the Beatles) make things that look very complicated, simple,” he says. This is why Arsenal could make complex strategies look simple and beautiful.

When Nusrat, Adams or Lennon conceived, wrote, composed or sang, little did they know that their songs would inspire iconic teams and help sporting superstars achieve historic feats.

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Sandeep Dwivedi
National Sports Editor
Indian Express

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