Agencies

KARACHI

Shocked and hurt by Shahid Afridi's comments that Pakistan's cricketers were loved more by Indians than the fans here, former captain Javed Miandad has said that players making such statements should be "ashamed" of themselves.

"These cricketers should be ashamed of themselves for saying such a thing. Shame on you," Miandad said.

Afridi and senior player Shoaib Malik had praised India after landing there for the World Twenty20, insisting that they have never felt threatened in the country even though their departure was delayed due to security concerns

"We have always enjoyed playing in India and have been loved by Indian crowds more than crowds back home in Pakistan," Afridi had said. Miandad said Pakistan had gone to India to play in the World T20 but it didn't mean that the players should pander to the hosts.

"What have the Indians given us? Speak the truth even while in India. For the last five years what have they given us or done with Pakistan cricket. Having served Pakistan cricket for so many years I am shocked and hurt to hear such comments from our players," Miandad said.

The veteran of 124 Tests said the Pakistan cricket authorities must look into this matter and there should be a proper media classes for the players when they go abroad. "The job of this team is to go and play well in India not make such unnecessary comments," he said.

Pakistan's former Test opener and chief coach Mohsin Khan also expressed his surprise over the comments from Afridi and Malik "They are senior players and should be careful while speaking to the media specially while touring India," Khan said.

However, Afridi hit back with a distinctive posting on Facebook. His post read,” If we demanded peace instead of another television set, then there would be peace in the world. Alas, some journalist are born to deliberately misinterpret an innocent statement. Be positive, be true!”

Afridi may have tried to win Indian crowd: Sunil Gavaskar: Afridi may have been chided by his own people for his 'more love from India' remark but Sunil Gavaskar feels that the Pakistan skipper has smartly tried to win over the Indian crowd.

"Emotions run high before India-Pakistan match. What Shahid said was a good way to say nice things about Indian public. The crowd at Eden will not be hostile towards Pakistan," Gavaskar said.

"If you have hostile crowd, it can also lift your game but if you are overwhelmed by a hostile crowd, you don't play your natural game, you play into crowd hands. This is a fine way to win the Eden crowd. Having played in the IPL, he may have meant what he said," Gavaskar said.

Asked if Miandad's reaction when he said that Afridi should be ashamed of himself, was appropriate, Gavaskar said: "it depends on individual".

"When Miandad played for Pakistan, he played with his whole heart. He gave 200 per cent when he played against India. He always had that invisible Pakistan flag with him. So he was miffed with Shahid, saying nice things," he said. The legendary opener suggested that Afridi and his players must not think about all this and concentrate on just their game. "Shahid and his boys need to focus on cricket. They must play at a much higher level than Asia Cup and silence their critics," Gavaskar felt.

"India are favourites by a 'little bit' to win the WorldT20 and along with the hosts, Australia, South Africa and England can make semis going by current form.

Gavaskar said the jinx that a host country has never won a World Twenty20 title may be broken this time. "There has to be a first time. No host country has won it and it can be India. The way the Indians have been playing from Australia, they look a happy, balanced unit. The fielding is top class and that's great. " He also found New Zealanders a potential threat for other formidable teams. "New Zealand play under the radar. Expectations are less, so they can come and surprise.”

It will be a cracker of a game against India. They have fabulous strokemakers. Trent Boult is there and Tim Southee, who had played in IPL. He knows how to bowl in Indian conditions. They can spring a surprise," Gavaskar said.