There are millions of individuals trying their hand in cricket and politics every other day. But only a very few are lucky enough to make it big in either of the following careers. The mixture and combination of anyone succeeding in both is understandably rare to witness.
In the case of Imran Khan, success in politics, just as in Cricket, has taken its time in coming, but it has arrived (thanks in no small part to the Pakistani Army and ISI, as per his opponents.)
The legendary all-rounder was his country's 'prized asset' when it came to Cricket. He led Pakistan to ultimate glory in 1992, guiding them to their first and only World Cup win till date.
And 26 years later, he is on the verge of becoming his nation's Prime Minister. Let's take a look at how he shifted from cricket field to electoral field, starting right from his entry into the Pakistan team.
Imran Khan's cricket career with Pakistan started with him being a 19-year-old in 1971. Prior to that, he had featured for Lahore A, Lahore B, Lahore Greens and Lahore. But when Pakistan played England at Birmingham in 1971, the world got its first look at a future great.
His initial Test career saw him play just four matches in five years. On his debut, he went wicket-less, and scored a mere five runs. It meant he wasn't seen in the cricketing arena for three years.
In 1974, he was recalled to the Test squad for the England tour, and played all the three matches. It was during this tour that he also made his bow in the ODI format, featuring in both the matches.
Imran Khan's career blossomed in 1976 following an exceptional Test series against New Zealand, following which he became a regular in both the formats. In the three-Test series, he took 14 wickets, and never looked back.
The years 1982 and 1983 were when Imran Khan became a true cricketing great. In the Test format, his bowling became unplayable, as he kept on taking wickets. Even with the bat, he chipped in with runs every now and then. It was during this time that he also took over the captaincy of Pakistan from Javed Miandad.
In the course of those two years, he played 14 test matches. And his numbers were staggering. Imran Khan took an astonishing 88 wickets, including three 10-wicket-hauls in a match. To add to that, he also scored 717 runs.
There was success in the ODI format as well. Imran Khan didn't fare well with the ball, taking just two in 21 matches. He hardly bowled in 1983 as India emerged World Cup champions. With the bat, however, he scored 563 runs at an average of 63.8.
Imran's career was a success, even though he hadn't won a World Cup with Pakistan. But in 1992, he added that feat to his already long list of achievements. He didn't just lead the team from the front, but also produced with both bat and ball.
He managed to take seven wickets, and score 185 runs as Pakistan tasted success in cricket's biggest tournament. And a few months after the win, he announced retirement from international cricket.
In 88 Test matches, he took 362 wickets and scored 3807 runs. As for ODIs, he played 175 matches, wherein he scalped 182 wickets and scored 3709 runs. Imran also etched his name as arguably the greatest all-rounder of the game. He was the second fastest all-rounder to 3000 runs and 300 wickets, only behind Ian Botham.
He bid adieu to Pakistan cricket after 21 years, in which he created history, and he left behind a legacy which has proved impossible to match.
Imran Khan decided to step into politics in 1996, four years after ending his cricket career. He formed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, and contested for the seat of National Assembly of Pakistan in 1997. Despite his Cricketing popularity, his first effort was unsuccessful, as he lost from both the seats, NA-53, Mianwali and NA-94, Lahore, to the PML (N).
He was a staunch supporter of former Pakistan Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf, and supported his decision of 'military coup' in 1999. It was reported that Imran Khan was Musharraf's first choice for Prime Minister during 2002 elections, an offer which he respectfully turned down. In that election, Imran Khan was elected from Mianwali.
In 2007, Imran Khan, along with other MP's revolted against Musharraf's decision to contest the election, despite remaining as the Army chief. A state of emergency was declared on November 3 in the country by Musharraf, following which, Imran and others were put into house arrest.
But he did not back down and managed to escape from the arrest, going into hiding. A few days later, he returned and continued his protest with the students at the University of the Punjab. For his actions, he was imprisoned and sent to jail.
Towards the end of 2011, Imran Khan announced himself as a real political threat through a series of rallies, where he managed to voice his feelings in front of huge crowds and win their trust. He and his party became the most popular party in the country, according to a survey by International Republican Institute (IRI).
The very next year, he challenged the United States of America government for their drone missile strikes. In 2013, he became a major player in Pakistan politics after introducing a "Naya Pakistan Resolution" (New Pakistan) ahead of the election. He even declined to become the Prime Minister in a Pakistan People's Party (Punjab) and PTI coalition, which was offered to him by Manzoor Wattoo, President of PPP.
Ahead of the elections, Imran was touted as the biggest competitor to Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party. The elections took place, and the people of Pakistan voted for Nawaz and his party. However, the elections ended up being a success for Imran and his party, which won 35 seats, and emerged as the second largest party by popular vote. He and his party also became the opposition in Punjab and Sindh.
Sitting on the other side of power, Imran Khan regularly attacked Nawaz Sharif and his party. He made scathing allegations against some of the ruling leaders, and even alleged that the 2013 elections were rigged.
Now, five years later, the same allegations are being made once again, only Imran Khan is on the receiving end.