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Posted at: Jun 17, 2019, 4:14 PM; last updated: Jun 18, 2019, 6:47 AM (IST)

Imran Khan calls Pak cricketers ‘raillu kattas’, what exactly is it?

Imran Khan calls Pak cricketers ‘raillu kattas’, what exactly is it?
Illustration by Sandeep Joshi

Karam Prakash
Tribune News Service
Patiala, June 17

Hours before the Cricket World Cup face-off between Pakistan and India, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan referred to his country’s players as “raillu kattas” in a piece of advice he tweeted for skipper Sarfaraz. The term left Twitterati as puzzled as people offline.

Part of a series of comments, one tweet read: “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” (sic).

Immediately there was a buzz across the border, with many in India wondering what exactly did the words “raillu kattas” mean, even as some in Pakistan offered some explanations.

The vernacular word “raillu katta”, said some in Pakistan, was Urdu slang often used in the country to refer to a male buffalo calf that had become obese and was thus of no use.

That is a more a literal explanation. In cultural reference, the phrase may refer to a person who has no specialisation or aim in life. Tarik Gujjar, Professor of Punjabi at Government Post-Graduate College in Jhang district of Punjab province of Pakistan, told The Tribune over the phone: “The world raillu katta is used for a person who has no skill and has turned lethargic from overeating. The term is commonly also used for players who do not contribute to a team.”

Some also use the expression for a person who may play for both sides in informal street cricket. Rao Shakeel, a journalist in Pakistan, said, “When children play cricket, they often have someone who neither bats nor bowls well, but has to be accommodated for the sake of participation. He is actually of no use. Such a person is called raillu katta.”

In India, youngsters may use the term ‘billi mausi’ for such a character.

The outcome of the Sunday outing did prove former Pakistan captain Imran Khan may have been right in advising Sarfraz to have a “winning offensive strategy… with specialist batsmen and bowlers,” rather than raillu kattas!

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