‘I wanted Abdul Razzaq’: When SRK said Pakistani cricketers are the best T20 players
As the Indian Premiere League (IPL) commenced, an old video of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan from 2010 resurfaced online, in which he advocates for Pakistani cricket players to be included in the annual T20 matches. The actor even went on to claim that Pakistani cricketers are the “best T20 players.” The clip has garnered attention once again, as tensions between the neighbouring countries continue.
The video, reposted by Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar on his Instagram Story, sees Khan, who is the co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, speaking about the pressures that IPL teams face in team selection. Referring to an auction where no Pakistani player received bids, Khan described the exclusion as “humiliating” and that he wanted Abdul Razzaq in his team.
The Raees star noted that 11 Pakistani players were on the shortlist for the IPL auction, but none were ultimately picked. Suggesting that uncertainty over strained relations between the two countries may have prompted IPL franchises to exercise restraint in their team selections, he said, “I am not giving an excuse and I truly believe Pakistani players are the best T20 players in the world. They are the champions. They are wonderful. But somewhere down the line, there is an issue and we cannot deny it.”
Khan also highlights the difficulties that team owners face in such situations, saying, “There is an issue, we cannot keep saying ‘Oh this was wrong’. Yes maybe the way it was done was wrong, the way it is being carried out may be wrong, but you can’t keep on saying koi issue nahi hai yaar, woh aa jate (There isn’t any issue, they could have come). There is an issue and let’s not deny it. Every day we blame Pakistan, they blame us, it is an issue.”
Khan’s comments are particularly relevant now given that India has refused to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup 2023. Despite efforts to promote cricket diplomacy, including the resumption of bilateral cricket ties in 2012 and the formation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) cricket council, the relationship between the two countries remains strained.
The IPL has previously faced criticism for excluding Pakistani players. However, the league’s governing council has stated that player selection is based purely on talent and performance, and not on any political considerations. Fans, on the other hand, cursed Khan for supporting Pakistani players then, and now.