- Before the match, Imran Khan suggested that Pakistan opt to bat first
- Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, however, decided bowling first would be better
- He was trolled as India piled up a formidable total of 336 runs
In the hours preceding the much-anticipated World Cup match with India in Manchester today, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan advised cricket team captain Sarfaraz Ahmed to bat first if he wins the toss. Being a former star cricketer who had led Pakistan to their only win in the tournament nearly three decades ago, he felt that the team would fare better if they were setting a target instead of chasing one.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, however, had different ideas. He won the toss alright, but opted to bowl.
It was a decision that the Pakistan captain probably came to regret, with India putting together a formidable 336 runs for five wickets amid rainy conditions. Pakistan ended up losing by 89 runs.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Imran Khan had suggested that Sarfaraz Ahmed opt only for specialist bowlers and batsmen to ensure that Pakistan does not go belly up against their traditional rival. "Sarfaraz must go in with specialist batsmen and bowlers because 'Railu Kattas' rarely perform under pressure - especially the intense kind that will be generated today. Unless the pitch is damp, Sarfaraz must win the toss & bat," he said.
4/5 1. In order ro 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. 2. Unless pitch is damp, Sarfaraz must win the toss & bat— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 16, 2019
Railu Katta, which literally translates to "wandering buffalo calf", means a sportsperson who brings no value addition to his team.
As it turned out, Manchester had witnessed no showers before the match and the pitch was relatively dry. Sarfaraz Ahmed, however, decided that bowling first should be the way to go for Pakistan. "India versus Pakistan is a big game but we just have to focus on playing our best game," he said.
Incidentally, his strategy found the backing of Indian skipper Virat Kohli. "I would have bowled first too, to be honest. There's a lot of attention outside of the ropes, but when you enter the field, it's about applying the basics of the game," he said, adding that the overcast conditions should assist Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir.
2/5 Today, given the intensity of the match, both teams will come under great mental pressure and the power of the mind will decide the outcome of the match today. In Sarfaraz we are fortunate to have a bold captain & today he will have to be at his daring best.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 16, 2019
Describing Sarfaraz Ahmed as a "bold captain" who will have to be at his daring best today, Imran Khan had advised the Pakistan team to "banish all fears of losing" despite India being considered as the World Cup favourites by cricket pundits. "Just give your best and fight till the last ball. Then accept whatever the result like true sportsmen. The nation's prayers are with all of you. Good Luck," he tweeted.
Even as India seemed set for a massive victory, the Pakistan captain understandably came in for some trolling over his decision to shrug off the cricketing legend-turned-politician's suggestion.
Another netizen attempted to portray what he assumed was Imran Khan's emotional state of mind through an image of a man weeping.
Imran Khan (67), who was an all-rounder and legendary fast bowler, led Pakistan for over a decade through the 80s and the 90s. In the 1992 World Cup finals, his team beat England by 22 runs to claim the World Cup.
Known as one of Pakistan's most successful captains, he scored 3,807 runs and took 362 wickets in Tests and 3,709 runs and 182 wickets in one-day internationals.
(With inputs from ANI)