An old video of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan from 2010 that was posted online again as the Indian Premier League (IPL) got underway calls for Pakistani cricket players to be included in the yearly T20 contests. Further claims by the thespian included that Pakistani cricketers were the “best T20 players.” As tensions between the neighboring nations remain high, the video has attracted attention once more.
Shahrukh Khan, a co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, discusses the pressures that IPL teams experience in team selection in the video that Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar reposted on his Instagram Story. Khan referred to an auction where no Pakistani player got bids and said he wanted Abdul Razzaq in his team because the exclusion was “humiliating.”
“I think it’s humiliating to me as a KKR owner that this has happened,” Khan could be seen saying in the video. “We are known to be good, we are known to invite everyone, and we should have. I truly believe that they should have been chosen. As a matter of fact, I’m not going to be the one who is opposite from what everyone else is saying but I wanted Abdul Razzaq. I think it was in the newspapers much earlier than even the auction started. Dada (Sourav Ganguly) was very keen,” he said.
11 Pakistani players were on the shortlist for the IPL auction, according to the Raees star, but none of them were chosen. He said, “I am not giving an excuse and I honestly think Pakistani players are the best T20 players in the world. But uncertainty over the tense relations between the two countries may have caused IPL franchises to exercise caution in their team selections. The winners are they. They are excellent. We cannot ignore the fact that there is a problem somewhere along the path.
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 remarks are especially pertinent at this time because India has declined to visit Pakistan for the 2023 Asia Cup. The two nations’ relationship is still tense despite attempts to foster cricket diplomacy, including the resumption of bilateral cricket relations in 2012 and the creation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) cricket council.
The IPL has previously come under fire for not allowing Pakistani athletes to compete. The league’s governing body has however stated that choosing players is solely based on ability and performance, and not on any political factors. On the other side, supporters cursed Khan for continuing to back Pakistani athletes.