Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi thanked cricket fans from Kashmir for supporting his team in the World Twenty20 match against Australia in Mohali.
Afridi, who is expected to lose his captaincy after the championship, drew criticism on Tuesday before a match against New Zealand for saying people from Kashmir had come to Mohali to support Pakistan.
BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said Afridi’s comment was “not politically correct”.
“I want to thank the people of Kolkata (the venue of a previous World T20 match against India) for supporting us. I thank people who came and supported us from Pakistan and Kashmir.
“I also want to thank the BCCI for taking good care of us in India,” Afridi said in the post-match presentation after Pakistan’s 21-run loss to Australia that knocked his team out.
Kashmir, the militancy-hit state over which India and Pakistan have fought three wars, has been divided between the neighbours by a heavily militarised Line of Control since the end of British rule in 1947. Both countries administer parts of the state separately.
In the past, Kashmiri students have been expelled for supporting the Pakistan team. Students have also clashed over celebrating the arch-rival’s success.
For the second game in a row, Pakistan found good support from fans in Mohali.
Non-stop chants of ‘Pakistan jeetega’ and ‘Afridi lala and ‘Afridi lala’ were heard minutes before the start of the game at the 27,000-capacity venue.
“We are here for Afridi,” Amir, who hails from Anantnag but is studying in the nearby Rajpura, said.
In his country, the 36-year-old Afridi is facing criticism for saying he has received more love from Indian fans than cricket lovers in his country.
“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.