After receiving plenty of flak over his recent comments in India, Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi on Tuesday found support from the team head coach and pace legend Waqar Younis.
"For me, I did not find anything controversial in it. This is something he felt. It's his emotions. I believe we should leave it at that rather than creating a controversy out of nothing. We're here to play cricket, to beat teams. To focus on cricket is a better idea," Younis said at the pre-match news conference in Kolkata.
"My message to the boys is just leave everything behind. This is about playing some quality cricket, playing for the nation. They all are capable," Younis added.
I did not find anything controversial in this(Afridi's remark of receiving more love in India than Pakistan)-Waqar Younis #WT20
— ANI (@ANI_news) March 15, 2016
Seen as his last appearance in the sixth edition of the World Twenty20, Afridi has been struggling for form but the head coach said he's one good innings away.
"It takes less than a minute to lose form and to get it back as well. T20 cricket is like that, we're hoping that he's one innings away from getting back his old form. Hope this is the story in Afridi's case."
Younis' words would come as a relief for the Pakistan all-rounder, who has been under tremendous fire of late for his comments. His role as captain of the Pakistan T20I captain is also under scrutiny after a woeful outing in the recent Asia Cup T20.
Shortly after the Pakistan team landed at the Kolkata airport on Saturday evening, Afridi was quoted as saying that the amount of love that he and his team got in India was more than what they got in Pakistan.
"I've not enjoyed playing anywhere as much as I have in India. I am in the last stage of my career and I can say that the love I have got in India is something that I will always remember. We have not got this much love even from Pakistan," Afridi was quoted as saying, brushing off security concerns that threatened their participation in the tournament, according to PTI.
The comments drew widespread criticism back home in Pakistan and Pakistan fans were livid over his statement.
Former Pakistan captain and batting legend Javed Miandad blasted the 36-year-old all-rounder, saying 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 on the 'Aaj TV' channel.
Afridi, who is currently in the last stage of his career, was also slapped with a legal notice for "committing treason" and "hurting sentiments" of Pakistanis by advocate Azhar Siddique in the Lahore High Court.
"I have served a legal notice on Shahid Afridi and 'de facto' chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board Najam Sethi for their love for India over Pakistan.
"I have also written to PCB Chairman Shahryar Khan to launch an inquiry into the statement of Afridi in India," Siddique was quoted as saying according to PTI.
Earlier, Pakistan's participation in the ICC World T20 was under question after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) raised objections to playing in India at Dharamsala, with the status of the match being threatened due to protests from ex-army officers as well as families of deceased soldiers.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Mar 15, 2016 15:34 PM | Updated Date: Mar 15, 2016 15:50 PM