The passion, the edginess, the Raillu Katta

Rohit Mahajan

Tribune News Service

Manchester, June 16

Just a shout away from the Pakistani dressing room, the Pakistani fans are shrieking their heart out — Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Amir are bowling, and Omair Sheikh of Karachi is advising the two left-arm fast bowlers to “smash” the batsmen.

In non cricket-confrontational life, Sheikh is a very polite young man. It’s just that when it’s India vs Pakistan, and the adrenaline is flowing, he goes with the flow and utters intemperate words. But they’re just words.

“I have roots in Delhi, my forefathers came to Karachi from there,” Sheikh, a cricketer-turned-coach, says. He speaks about the fact the people of the two countries are one people, which he’s realised after meeting Indians over the years. He’s an absolutely non-violent man in person — he just wants his team to win.

Hype, nationalism make people passionate. 

Imran and Raillu Kattas

Hyped-up match? Bloody hell yes, if the prime minister of a country thinks it fit to give advice regarding the game to his country’s team.

Imran Khan, the former captain of Pakistan, has spoken. In the last few years of his political struggle, Khan talked cricket only rarely — he did speak when big cricket was around a good fee was offered, to raise funds for his political campaigns or philanthropic work.

Now he’s the political captain of Pakistan, and he felt compelled to comment on today’s contest. Imran took to Twitter to speak about conquering fear, about mental ability being more important than talent, as “my friend Gavaskar” believes. Imran also wrote about a curious phenomenon called Raillu Katta.

Now, Raillu Katta is a derogatory term used in Pakistan for a third-rate cricketer — an animal without pedigree, basically. “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,” Khan wrote.

Mom, I’m here!

Wahab Riaz, fielding at long-on, looks back at the crowd and waves and grins — right at his mother. She’s sitting just a few rows back in the crowd, along with her other son and daughter.

“Yes, he’s totally fired up,” says Ahsan Riaz, Wahab’s younger brother. “It’s not just about doing well against India — it’s a do-or-die match for Pakistan because the team has lost two matches and one match was washed out.”

Ahsan is a pleasant young man who played some cricket and now runs a business in Lahore. He remembers being at the 2011 World Cup semifinal against India at Mohali, in which big brother Wahab took five wickets but still ended up on the losing side. “Oh, that game… If we’d taken our catches, I think the results could have been very different,” he says. “Pakistan’s lost six World Cup matches to India in a row... Time that record changed.”

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