Former Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis apologized on Wednesday after his comment over Mohammad Rizwan praying in the field Pak-India T20 World Cup match sparked controversy on media.
While appearing in a show, a day earlier, Younis while lauding Pakistani squad stated that “God has willed [Mashallah], Rizwan offered namaz in a ground in the midst of Hindus. That was something very, very special for me.”
The comment landed the former bowling coach in hot waters, as it evoked criticism from masses on social media.
Pakistani journalist and television anchor Raza Rumi also condemned Younis’ comments, terming them “shameful”.
“There is a large Muslim community in India. We have millions of Hindus living in Pakistan. Sport is sport, not a battle of religions,” he tweeted.
Indian cricket commentator and analyst Harsha Bhogle expressed dismay on Younis’ comments, saying: “For a person of Waqar Younis’ stature to say that watching Rizwan offering namaz in front of Hindus was very special to him, is one of the most disappointing things I have heard.”
“A lot of us try hard to play such things down and talk up sport and to hear this is terrible,” Bhogle added.
“You would think that cricketers, as ambassadors of our game, would be a little more responsible … We need to unite the cricket world, not divide it by religion,” he added further.
Younis, after facing criticism stated that “In the heat of the moment, I said something which I did not mean which has hurt the sentiments of many. I apologise for this, this was not intended at all, genuine mistake,” he said. “Sports unites people regardless of race, colour or religion. apologies.”
“I was all excited that Pakistan has won the match … and in that excitement I might have used some word that could have hurt someone’s sentiments. So I apologise if anyone is hurt because of me,” he said. “I never meant it, it was a game, it was [in] the heat of the moment, and I apologise.”, he went on to clarify.
He concluded by stating that “it was wrong of me and I should not have made those comments.”