New Delhi: Even before the season of gloom, set-off by the defeat to India in the World Cup semi-final, gets over in Pakistan, Shahid Afridi’s disturbing posers on “the hate towards India” has left many of his fellow countrymen squirming.
The Pakistan captain had upon arrival in Karachi from Mohali, yesterday, apologised to his nation for losing the World Cup semifinal to arch-rivals India, but praised his team for playing beyond expectations in the tournament. He had also made it a point to wish India “all the best for the final”.
However, the Pakistani media continued to harp on the enormity of the defeat as it was at the hands of India and continued to pose disturbing questions to Afridi, like, “what would be Pakistan’s game plan to defeat India when they play each other the next time around?”.
Afridi’s candid reply: “I don’t know why we are against India so much. I don’t understand the mindset of people here, why are we so opposed to India? ….Why is there so much hatred against India, are there no other teams?”.
“If that’s the case then why are so many Indian TV soaps watched in every household here… our marriage rituals are so very similar to theirs… lot of Indian movies are being watched here, then why is this hatred for India, why only with India?,” he retorted back.
Trying to soothe frayed nerves, Afridi said, “Everything should be taken in its correct context. Cricket is a sport and should be taken as a sport,” while also expressing confidence that Pakistani team will beat defeat all top teams of the world in the future.
At his combative best, Afridi trained his guns on Interior Minister Rehman Malik for his pre-match “warning” to players to stay away from match-fixing.
"I don`t think the timing was right. He telephoned me three or four times and he tried to explain things but I could not understand what he was saying as I was busy with my work.
I think he made a mistake and I hope such mistakes aren`t made by anyone in future," he said.
Afridi also lent credence to reports that he is looking to skip the upcoming West Indies tour, starting April 18 by saying that he wants to rest and spend time with his family.
Interestingly, contrary to popular expectation, the Pakistani cricket team had returned to a warm welcome with fans showering the players with flowers and shouting slogans in support of Afridi.
Pakistan lost to India by 29 runs while chasing 261 in the World Cup semifinals on March 30.