Look who is talking while Shahid Afridi bats for the Indian crowd and atones for his 2011 mistakes.
Of all the Pakistan cricketers in all the world, Javed Miandad and Mohsin Khan.
"These cricketers should be ashamed of themselves for saying such a thing. Shame on you," Miandad reportedly told Pakistan's 'Aaj TV' channel earlier this week.
Miandad, like many Pakistani fans, was hurt by Afridi's praise for India. "We have always enjoyed playing in India and have been loved by Indian crowds more than crowds back home in Pakistan," Afridi said after landing in India for the T-20 World Cup.
"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 retorted.
Personally, Miandad should not be complaining. India has given him a lot, both on and off the field. To begin with, his daughter-in-law, who happens to be the daughter of fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, the terrorist accused of masterminding the Mumbai bomb blasts.
Of course, there is reason to believe that the relationship between Miandad and Dawood dates back to the 80s, when Dawood was a Dubai-based smuggler.
A few years ago, Dilip Vengsarkar had narrated--and then retracted-- a juicy story about how Kapil Dev had thrown Dawood out of the Indian dressing room during the 1987 Australasia Cup--presumably the one that Miandad won for his team with the last-ball six off a Chetan Sharma full-toss.
According to Vengsarkar, Miandad later came to the Indian dressing room to complain about the way the smuggler was treated. "Yaar usko (Kapil) pata nahi woh Dawood Ibrahim hai, Usko kuch problem karega (Kapil does not know that he is Dawood Ibrahim, he could create problems for Kapil)," Miandad said, according to Vengsarkar.
Cricket has indeed been a casualty of India-Pakistan politics. It is sad that Pakistani players are not allowed in IPL and the two teams don't get to play at all, except during ICC events. We can debate the reasons behind this till eternity.
But, it is hypocritical of a man like Miandad to complain about it after embracing the No 1 terrorist on India's most-wanted list. Maybe he would have let the likes of Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, who are invited by Indian TV channels as experts, to speak for their country.
India's last memories of Miandad verge on the hilarious. In the 1992 World Cup, frustrated by his own inability to score and Kiran More's constant chatter in a game against India, Miandad started jumping around on the crease, immortalising himself as Jumping Javed.
Four years later, during the quarter-final against India at Bangalore, he walked in with lots of Pakistani hopes resting on his shoulders. When he walked out, unable to put a decent bat to the ball, Miandad had turned into a caricature of himself, a pale shadow of the man who had hit Chetan for that unforgettable six.
So, perhaps, Miandad's advice to Afridi should also be taken as a joke.
Mohsin Khan, however, should be called out as a hypocrite when he blasts Afridi for praising India. This, please note, is the same cricketer who was cast as a leading man in many Indian films just because Bollywood was polite enough to be respectful to his wife Reena Roy. Khan acted in films like Batwara--co-starring Dharmendra and Vinod Khan-- and Saathi, the way he used to play: with a dead bat. Still he got several offers from Indian film producers, who did not bother to look at his inexperience or nationality.
His objection to Afridi's praise is, thus, like the proverbial cat going for pilgrimage after getting nine hundred lives in Indian cinema.
It is obvious Afridi is trying to win over the support of Indians during the World Cup. He is once again trying to be an ambassador of the game, whose job is to win hearts, regale people with their performance and be gracious to the hosts.
Last time when Indian fans showered Afridi with their love and affection by cheering his team and praising their performance, he let them down with a mindless rant.
Remember the 2011 World Cup semi-final at Mohali? The bon homie during that game? The spirit of the Indian crowds that cheered Pakistanis after the game? And Afridi returned the compliment? Lala went back home and launched a khisiyani-billi brand tirade on everything Indian.
“You can’t hide the fact that no matter how much we try, they [the Indian team] can’t be on the same level as us and don’t have a heart as big as us,” Afridi told Dawn News in response to a question pertaining to India’s hospitality and treatment.
He then went on to rule out the possibility of a long-term relation with India, prompting his chief selector Aamir Sohail to label Lala's comment immaturish.
So, while Afridi tries to press the reset button, everybody should say to him what the Pakistani wicketkeeper is often heard saying when the Pakistani skipper bowls: Shabhash Lala!