What’s the story?
Pakistan fans are unhappy with the country’s legendary all-rounder Imran Khan after a leaked video emerged of him terming international stars who agreed to play in the 2017 Pakistan Super League finals in Lahore despite security threats as "third-class".
The remarks by the former Pakistani captain were captured by a local journalist and was uploaded online, where it sparked a lot of backlash in the country and he wasn’t even spared by his fans and supporters too.
Speaking to party aides on Tuesday, he criticised the tournament organisers for scheduling the finals in Lahore and poked fun at the overseas players who agreed to play in spite of the security threat.
“I didn't even know the names of the ' phateechar' players (third-class players). I think they grabbed some people from Africa and others from elsewhere to claim that they were foreign players,” he said as the people around him started laughing.
Later, he took a subtle dig at the overseas players, tartetting the two-time World T20 and 2017 PSL winning captain, Darren Sammy, who became a huge fan favourite in the country following his antics with the fans.
He said, "Sammy was captain but he is not a big player," he said. "Had Chris Gayle come, had Kevin Pietersen come, I would have said they were big international stars."
In case you didn’t know...
Since the terrorists attacked a touring Sri Lankan side outside the Gadaffi stadium in Lahore in 2009, Pakistan hardly played hosts to the visiting teams as the Men in Green are forced to play their home matches in UAE. Zimbabwe toured Pakistan to play three T20Is in 2015 and not a single top-8 nation has toured the country since 2009.
In a bid to bring International cricket back to Pakistan, the PCB decided to have the final of PSL in Lahore while the league matches took place in UAE. Much to the relief of the fans and the board, the final took place peacefully.
The heart of the matter
Imran Khan, who is the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaaf, had opposed PCB’s decision to stage the PSL final in Lahore instead of the UAE, where earlier matches were played, citing security grounds.
However, after the finals, he congratulated the fans for their participation and the kind of enthusiasm they showed in a match that could be the stepping stone for the International teams to visit the country in the future.
Overseas players coming to play in Pakistan is a huge relief for the board and the fans, who are deprived of cricket in the country for over 8 years. They should be grateful to those who were bold enough to tour the country in spite of several players pulling out of the finals due to security threats.
It is surprising to hear this from Imran Khan, who has captained Pakistan in the past and is considered as a role model by many budding cricketers.
Extra cover: 2017 PSL- Team of the Tournament