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Furore over ex-Pakistan captain’s controversial comments on Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant

Salman Butt, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, India, Indian Cricket Team,

The Indian cricket team led by Rohit Sharma is not having a good time on the field, and that became quite evident on Tuesday after the Men in Blue were beaten by Australia in the first T20I in Mohali. Their defeat came days after their shock exit from the Asia Cup where they suffered consecutive losses in close games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And against the Kangaroos, Team India lost the match despite putting up a mammoth score of 208/6 on the board. Indian fielding in particular left a lot to be desired as the likes of KL Rahul, and Axar Patel dropped catches at crucial stages of the contest. In addition to that, the Indian pacers lacked the spark and went for plenty in the death overs, resulting in India conceding a 0-1 lead to Aaron Finch and his boys in the three-match T20I series. Like several other cricket pundits, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt also had his say about India’s performance. However, unlike the Indian greats Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar who had blamed Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel for the defeat, Salman Butt came out with a rather strange reason behind their loss.

Salman Butt opined that several members of the Indian cricket team, including skipper Rohit Sharma, wicketkeeper batter Rishabh Pant and to an extent vice-captain KL Rahul were just not fit enough to compete at the highest level of the game and that’s why they were struggling on the turf.

“I don’t know if others will talk about this or not, but in my view, Team India’s fitness is not ideal. Apart from the likes of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya, fitness is not their strongest point. Some of them are not outstanding on the field. They lack pace in bowling and they don’t take their chances in the field,”  Salman Butt said on his Youtube channel.

“KL Rahul dropped a catch in the field. He seemed so lethargic as he approached the ball. Axar also dropped a catch at mid-wicket. So, if you drop such catches then batters won’t give you another chance.”

“Pace bowling and fitness are worrying signs for India ahead of the World Cup,” he added.

“Indian players are the highest-paid cricketers in the world. They play the maximum number of matches. You tell me why is their fitness not up to the mark? If we compare their fitness with others teams like South Africa, Australia and England, the Indians are no match. I would even say some Asian teams are ahead of India. Some Indian players are overweight. I think they need to work on that because they are brilliant cricketers,” Salman Butt elaborated.

“Virat Kohli has set an example for others in fitness. Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya are so fit. They have outstanding fitness, but there are players like Rohit Sharma, even KL Rahul looked lethargic today, you know, Rishabh Pant. If they become fit, they will become more dangerous cricketers,” Salman Butt summed up.

But his remarks riled up fans on social media, with many terming his comments “insulting” and in bad taste towards Indian players, including Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and KL Rahul.

“Hey I want to ask you something…after disgracing your country and selling your conscience..how can you talk sitting on national TV and comment on national side captain,” a Twitter user commented.

Another asked, “So Salman Butt is now giving lectures on cricket sitting on a tv channel? Really? Salman Butt?”

Salman Butt, however, isn’t the first Pakistani cricketer to make controversial statements about India in recent days.

Earlier former Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez had stirred the pot with his ‘laadla’ (pampered) remark against India.

“I don’t know a lot, but I definitely know that in our society, whoever is the earner is loved by everyone, is the most laadla (pampered), gets the most kisses from everyone,” Mohammad Hafeez had told PTV Sports ahead of India’s Super 4 clash against Pakistan in the UAE earlier this month.

“India is a revenue-making country. So even in bilateral series across the world, where they get sponsorship, they get a jackpot, it’s hard to deny these things,” Mohammad Hafeez added.

This week, Mohammad Hafeez was asked to explain the logic behind his comment during an interaction hosted by Cricket Pakistan, where he stood by his remark.

“If I’m being honest, it’s a beautiful sport and every team play the game beautifully. They have their own styles of play, but we all know that when it comes to India, people stay silent about them on many things. It’s almost as if you can’t criticise India,” Mohammad Hafeez claimed.

“You should always indulge in constructive criticism. I have always been against biased opinions on a platform, and turn personal against someone. Many a times, some people think that they don’t need advice on anything. It shouldn’t be the case. You should always be open to advice and guidance. I have always remained honest with my statements, and talk about things that I learned from this game,” he explained.

“It’s my personal opinion and I said that. There is no doubt that the Indian players are big products, their name hold big value. But it isn’t as if only they play well. Many other players inspire as well. That’s why I used that word, because I feel they are being treated as ‘laadla’. I stand by my statement,” Mohammad Hafeez stated.