Under attack for stating that Pakistan cricketers are loved more in India, captain Shahid Afridi on Tuesday sought to douse the fire, saying that he did not intend to demean his nation and was merely trying to give a “positive message” by showing respect to the fans.
In an audio statement posted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Twitter, Afridi clarified that he was not trying to belittle Pakistani fans during his post-arrival press conference ahead of the ICC World Twenty20.
“I am not just captain of the Pakistan cricket team but I am representing all the Pakistani people here and I think if one looks at my comment in a positive way then it is obvious that I did not mean to say that anybody else would matter more to me than Pakistani fans. My whole identity comes from Pakistan,” Afridi said.
Afridi was criticised for the statement he made on Sunday. The flamboyant all-rounder has also been issued a legal notice in Lahore.
“I was asked a question by a journalist and I tried to answer it in a positive way because I know whatever I say would be heard all across the world. So I was merely trying to give a positive message to the rest of the world that we enjoy a lot when we play in India.”
“Whether it is Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis or Inzamam ul Haq, they will also say that they get a lot of respect here because cricket is literally worshipped in India. You can even ask Imran bhai, cricket is a religion here,” he added.
Pakistan will open its World T20 campaign against Bangladesh on Wednesday.