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Cricket In Conversation With World Cup 2019

Humbled, amazed to see how the image caught on: ‘Pakistan meme man’ Muhammad Sarim Akhtar

Oh, who can forget a Pakistan fan’s reaction to his team losing to Australia in the 2019 World Cup?
The cameraman picked it up and now, for more than a year, it is one of the popular meme templates. It caught up like a fire and is everywhere. People use it even today to express their disappointment and it fits perfectly.
I had an amazing opportunity to get in touch with the Muhammad Sarim Akhtar, and he is super generous to answer my questions. Here we go.

-Please tell us more about you, what you do and who you are. I mean, real please.
Well, I’m from Karachi, Pakistan. I had all my education (Bachelors and Masters) in Pakistan. I also worked there for more five years before moving to Kuwait where I worked for 13 years. In 2018, I moved to the UK and I currently work for a Big 4 accounting firm in London. I’m not an accountant, by the way.
I’m a regular family man, who keeps to himself and is polite and humble. Likes to take on challenges and yet very shy as well. I am the eldest of four siblings followed by two sisters and a brother. I like family gatherings and… outdoors.

-You became a sensation overnight. How cool was that? please take us through what was your reaction when you found that you were everywhere?
I was over-awed by what had happened in about 30-40 minutes. It made me realise the nuclear level power of the internet and social media. As soon as I sat down, I received messages from some people that they had seen me but then after a few minutes the memes started.
When Zainab Abbas came over to interview me, I realised how big it had gone and I was overjoyed. That night my Facebook got bombarded with friends requests and it scared me. The first thing I did was strength the security because it had all my family on it. Then I created a Twitter and Instagram account to cater for those requests separately. I love when people ask for selfies and I happily oblige.

Zainab meets Mohammad

After delighting the world with his meme-worthy reaction to Pakistan's fielding in the first innings, Zainab tracked down Mohammad Akhtar for a chat! 🇵🇰

Publiée par ICC Cricket World Cup sur Mercredi 12 juin 2019

-You are on T-shirts, mobile cases and everything. How do you see that?
Totally humbled and amazed how the image has really caught on and people are still using it for memes. ICC tweeted it at the start of first England vs WI test recently. Then people celebrated the anniversary by saying thanks for giving them the best meme template ever. Can’t believe it. Recently, it rained heavily in Karachi and people are sharing a meme of me from last years rains.

A few of my fans printed my picture on their shirts and went to see one of the Pakistan matches. Later visited me at my office and presented a shirt to me. I felt really good. Some of the memes are really very creative and I enjoy most of them. What has surprised me most is how the meme had gone viral in some non-cricket playing countries. I have a huge fan base in Italy!!

-Your comments on the current Pakistan team?
The current Pakistani team has lots of potential talent but they all need to prove themselves at the international stage with consistent performances and match-winning ones too. I hope we find a good batsman out of the current lot touring England apart from Babar. I am very excited about the prospects.

Cricket during Coronavirus pandemic?
Actually, it feels barren but Test cricket is riveting and I enjoy it. But I guess IPL is coming in good time and should be fun.

(Excerpts)

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