NEW DELHI - Pakistan was named as the Best International Cricket Team in the 2011-2012 season at the CEAT cricket awards on Friday while India batsman Virat Kohli bagged the International Cricketer of the Year award.
Kohli, also the vice-captain of the side, beat the likes of Australian captain Michael Clarke, former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara and consistent South African opener Hashim Amla to clinch the top honour at a glittering function. Kohli, however, could not make it to the event and former Pakistan captain and bowling legend Wasim Akram collected the award on his behalf. "He is a special player. One of the best batsmen and fielder in the world cricket. He should be groomed as the next T20 captain of the Indian team. He is the right choice for the position," said Akram of Kohli.
Akram also collected the award on behalf of the Pakistan team and said: "It's an honour for me to collect this award on behalf of the team. They really played some good cricket this season and I congratulate them for emerging the winner." Former Pakistan batting great Zaheer Abbas received the Lifetime Achievement Award. In the special India-Pakistan award category, legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar lifted the Best Test Batsman trophy while former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq was honoured with the Best ODI Batsman award. The 1983 India's World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev was adjudged the Best Test bowler, Akram received the Best ODI bowler award.
CEAT Audience Choice Awards 2011-2012 went jointly to former Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar and Indian opener Virender Sehwag. Kapil, while awarding the International Best Cricket Team award to Pakistan said: "They deserve the award as they played good cricket." Asked about Indian team's dismal show against Pakistan in the ongoing series, Kapil said it would be better to not talk on the issue.
"If we don't talk about it, it would be better for us. I just hope that on Sunday (third ODI at the Ferozeshah Kotla) we see better cricket. The Indian team has the reputation of making a comeback so I just hope they play well. I would just like to congratulate the Pakistan time for playing a fantastic cricket. They have a fantastic bowling line-up and there batsmen are also coming good. You deserve to win," he said."
Kapil, while getting nostalgic about the Indo-Pak rivalry, said: "Whenever you entered the field, you just wanted to win. It was like just go there and win. I can't explain in words the rivalry between the two nations. Sometimes the pressure situation, the tense atmosphere didn't let you to play the natural game." The first-ever CEAT young Indian cricketer of the year award was received by India U-19 World Cup winning captain Unmukt Chand, who collected the trophy from Gavaskar. "I am happy to have been chosen for this award. That was a special win for all of us. That particular day when I lifted the World Cup trophy was a special moment." Former Pakistan captains Saeed Anwar, Rameez Raja and Inzamam along with Kapil, Ajay Jadeja, Gavaskar and Yashpal Sharma graced the occasion.
Ramiz and Shonali Nagrani played perfect host to the evening reminding the present dignitaries of the excitement attached to the Indo-Pak rivalry over the years.