'To give a statement like that is not politically correct. A player should stay away from all this'
Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Anurag Thakur criticised embattled Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Wednesday for saying that 'a lot of people from Kashmir' had come to support his team during the World Twenty20 match against New Zealand in Mohali.
"To give a statement like that is not politically correct. A player should stay away from all this. That's the reason why he was criticised in Pakistan," Thakur said, referring to the controversy triggered by his previous remark on getting 'more love in India than back home'.
During Tuesday night's match against New Zealand, which Pakistan lost, a section of the crowd cheered Afridi at the toss, prompting former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja to ask if he and his team had support from the spectators.
"Yes, a lot of people are here from Kashmir as well. And I want to thank people of Kolkata, they really support us as well," Afridi said, at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium just before the start of the game.
"It seems you have a bit of fan-following here in Mohali," Raja had remarked after Afridi lost the toss.
Afridi is set to be axed as captain after the World T20 following Pakistan's loss to India in the tournament.
The flamboyant all-rounder had triggered outrage in Pakistan after stating that his team gets more love in India than back home.
Senior BCCI functionary and Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla said Afridi perhaps does not understand the psyche of an average cricket fan in India.
"I don't think there is any need to react to Shahid Afridi's statement. You can understand the kind of phase he is passing through. If he says something, I don't think we should give much importance to it. The only thing I would say is that he doesn't know the Indian spectators. Whoever plays well, they always applaud and appreciate that player," Shukla said.
"There is no need to distinguish between them as Kashmiris or anybody else. They all are Indians. It was a neutral game as far as Indian spectators were concerned. So please don't try to play politics. All Indians are cricket lovers," he added.