Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said on Tuesday that people from Kashmir had arrived in Mohali to support his team, in remarks that can trigger a controversy.
Afridi, who is expected to lose his captaincy after the World T20 championship, was speaking at the toss of the Pakistan vs New Zealand match in Mohali.
“A lot of people are there from Kashmir as well. Want to thank people in Calcutta (now Kolkata), they really supported us,” Afridi said.
The 36-year-old is facing criticism in Pakistan for saying he has received more love from Indian fans than cricket lovers in his country.
In Mohali, Afridi was asked if he was happy to see a large fan following at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium. Kashmir and Punjab are neighbouring states.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised Line of Control since the end of British rule in 1947.
Both countries administer parts of the state separately and have fought three wars over it.
Afridi and his team received overwhelming support from Indian fans this time, and it was the Pakistani skipper who set the tone.
“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 said more than a week ago, sparking discontent in his country.
Former cricket captain Javed Miandad slammed Afridi for the comment and said that he should be ashamed for saying such things.
The Pakistan team lost to India at Eden Gardens, plunging fans into grief and drawing curtains on Afridi’s stint as the T20 captain. Pakistan have never won against India in a World Cup match.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairperson Shaharyar Khan said Afridi will no longer be Pakistan’s T20 captain after the World Twenty20, irrespective of the team’s performance in the remainder of the tournament.