Kolkata, March 15 (IANS) Standing by his beleaguered skipper Shahid Afridi, Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis on Tuesday said he did not find anything controversial in his comments that the country’s cricketers got more love in India than back home, but hoped that the resultant storm would not affect the side’s morale in the World Twenty20.
Waqar, a former captain, said Afridi only expressed his feelings and emotions.
“Look, for me I didn’t find anything that controversial in it. It is something he felt, showed emotions,” Younis said at the customary media meet here on the eve of Pakistan’s maiden Group 2 clash in the tournament opposite Bangladesh.
Waqar felt the matter should be allowed to rest now.
“We should leave that rather than creating controversy about nothing. We are here to play cricket, we are here to beat teams and I think we should just focus on cricket,” Waqar, regarded as one of the greatest pacers, said.
In his arrival media conference, Afridi had raised a toast to Indian fans, saying : “We get lot of love from fans here, even more than the love we get from fans in Pakistan.”
Another seasoned Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik, married to Indian tennis sar Sania Mirza, had praised the security provided by the authorities here and said he never faced any security issues during his frequent trips to the country.
The comments led to angry reaction in Pakistan. Former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad expressed shock and lashed out at Afridi. A petition was also filed against Afridi in the Lahore High Court by an advocate who argued that the skipper’s statement has hurt Pakistani sentiments.
Asked whether the controversy could affect the team’s morale ahead of the crucial tournament, Waqar said: “Hope not, we had a bit of drama before coming here. We had controversy yesterday also.
“But my message to the boys will be to leave everything behind because this is about playing for the nation. It is about playing some quality cricket.”
“They all are capable of playing good cricket and once we get our momentum going we can beat any side,” he concluded.