Pakistan’s Azam Khan motivates himself from body-shaming online slurs

NEW DELHI: Parchi, aloo, mota, sifarshi, nepotism, gainda, baby elephant…are some of the contents on a poster that welcomes Pakistan’s Azam Khan to his room. These may sound derogatory but for the 25-year-old son of former Pakistan stumper Moin Khan, those words push him to train harder and do well.

Azam’s bulky frame has been mocked by social media users, and the calls grew louder after he got out to a bouncer from England fast bowler Mark Wood and then gave Will Jacks a reprieve after dropping a sitter behind the stumps. The clippings of these two incidents have gone viral, leaving cricket pundits with divided opinions with regards to his place in Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad.

While Azam is not new to being trolled on social media, he, actually, prefers to use the abuse to fire his motivation.

In Tabish Hashmi’s show ‘Hasna Mana hai’ on Geo News, the youngster talks about a poster in his room, which contains all the names he has been called. “Parchi, aloo, mota, sifarshi, nepotism, gainda, baby elephant.. I have written all these things on a poster in my room, and every day before going to the training I look at them and it gives me the extra confidence to do well,” he had said.

However, days before Pakistan begins their T20 World Cup campaign against co-hosts USA, it seems the trolling has affected him. An active Instagram user, Azam has restricted the comments section and then deleted all the photos he had posted.

Azam has so far represented Pakistan in 13 games, all T20 internationals, but hasn’t really managed to translate his brilliant franchise form in international cricket.

In the Pakistan Super League (PSL), where he was adjudged best wicketkeeper in 2024, he has amassed 1,140 runs in 50 innings at a strike rate of 146.90. He is 19th on the list of all-time run-getters in the PSL and only Kieron Pollard (162.28), Asif Ali (156.51), and Collin Munro (150.58) have better strike rates.

He also boasts of impressive numbers in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), notching up 659 runs at a strike rate of 135.04. He is ninth on the strike-rate list among batsmen, who have scored a minimum of 600 runs. The eight ahead of him are Andre Russell (170.22), Rahkeem Cornwall (154.18), Finn Allen (149.79), Kieron Pollard (149.39), Nicholas Pooran (148.32), Brendon McCullum (146.40), Evin Lewis (142.33) and Faf du Plessis (139.31).

Despite all that, the youngster has been criticised by cricket pundits, deeming him unfit for international cricket. Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi was harsh in his criticism, saying he would have never picked Azam for the national team.

“I would never let Azam Khan get anywhere near the team as far as fitness is concerned. I am worried about his keeping against spinners in West Indian conditions with this fitness because the ball stays low there and you have to keep your body low as well,” Afridi had said to a Pakistani TV channel.


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