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Of Railu Kattas And The Man Who Once Led Them To The Victory Stand

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Tahir Ali Khan analyses Imran Khan’s ‘Railu Katta’ comment in the light of Pakistan team’s formation in the 92 World Cup, when Khan had led Pakistan to become the world champions.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again used the word ‘Railu Katta’ and this time for some “unidentified” players of the current Pakistani World Cup squad.

Before the start of Pakistan’s match against its archrival India in the world cup, the former Pakistan captain, now Prime Minister of the country, tweeted:

“In order to have a winning offensive strategy, Sarfaraz must go in with specialist batsmen and bowlers because “Raillu Kattas” rarely perform under pressure – especially the intense kind that will be generated today.”

Though he didn’t explain which players from the current Pakistani team he thought were Railu Kattas, the advice to go with specialist batsmen and bowlers against India suggests that by Railu Kattas he meant the all-rounders.

Now, which of the players are not specialist batsmen or bowlers in the Pakistan team?

Pakistan’s playing XI against India included Imam ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali.

Of these, Imam ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam are specialist batsmen while Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali are specialist bowlers. Now we are left with batting all-rounders like Mohammad Hafeez, and Shoaib Malik. Does Imran consider any/both of them as Railu Kattas?

Captain Sarfaraz indeed took bad decisions in the all-important match, like opting for bowling first after winning the toss, not setting field for batsmen as per their weaknesses/strengths, not making timely changes in the bowling and remaining on the defensive throughout the match. It was not surprising then that Shoaib Akhtar, former cricketer, declared Sarfaraz Ahmad the ‘Railu Katta’. Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and other cricket gurus too criticised him for the lack of mental sharpness.

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But we are discussing the advice by PM Imran Khan. Did he do that himself when he was Pakistan’s captain and especially when he won world cup in 1992?

The 1992 Pakistani world cup squad included specialist batsmen in Ramiz Raja, Aamer Sohail, Inzamam ul-Haq, Javed Miandad, Saleem Malik, Ijaz Ahmed and specialist bowlers in Wasim Akram, Aqib Javed, Mushtaq Ahmed while Imran Khan was an all-rounder and Moin Khan the wicket-keeper.

Though Imran Khan advocates the idea of playing specialist bowlers and batsmen now, he had, astonishingly, played with only three specialist bowlers in that world cup, including Wasim Akram, Aqib Javed and Mushtaq Ahmed. Imran Khan himself was only half a bowler in those days. He didn’t play in a couple of matches for shoulder injury and didn’t bowl all of his allotted overs in many of the matches.

The shortage of one specialist bowler due to the absence of Waqar Younis, who missed the world cup for injury, forced Pakistan to complete their quota of 50 overs in each match with non-regular bowlers like Aamir Sohail, Ijaz Ahmad and Salim Malik who, most of the times, were not disappointing.

There is general agreement among cricket experts that to be able to make a winning combination, a few all-rounders must also be part of the playing eleven along with the specialist batsmen and bowlers.

Former cricketer and commentator Sikandar Bakht, in a TV interview, said that on one side PM Imran Khan asks for expelling Railu Kattas from the team while his ministers keep on recommending Railu Kattas. It is quite worrisome, if true.

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There is a need to include young and talented players in the team and retire the old players. Players like Shoaib Malik, Hafeez, Sarfraz and Imam ul-Haq must be sent back home if Pakistan wants to remain in the run for the final four slot. They have served well in the past but are worthless now.

PM Khan had stirred quite a controversy when he, in 2017, dubbed the foreign players coming to Pakistan to play in the PSL final as Railu Kattas. That was really pathetic on part of a cricketer who knew their arrival for the contest would surely help revive international cricket in the country.

Imran Khan is a cricket expert and he must continue advising the Pakistan team. But sportsmanship and his position of PM necessitates that he gives advice in a responsible manner. He must know his words are being recorded in history. Besides, they have an impact on the players in the field. Such words demoralise the players, besides tarnishing his own image in the cricketing world.

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Naya Daur