Shahid Afridi, Pakistan’s cricket captain, swiftly inserted his other foot in his mouth in an Indian television interview shortly after offending Indians by saying they don’t have as “pure hearts” as Pakistani Muslims.
In what appeared to be an effort to placate annoyed Indians, he said in an interview aired on India’s NDTV Tuesday that cricketers are more valued in India than Pakistan, a comment likely to cause annoyance at home.
“I’ve enjoyed cricket the most in India,” he said. “We get a lot of love there. I think the value given to cricketers there is greater than what it is in Pakistan.
If I speak truthfully, they just can’t have the kind of heart a Muslim has or a Pakistani has. I think they don’t have the sort of big hearts, pure hearts, Allah has given us. It is a very difficult thing for us to be together or to have a long-term relationship.”
In the US, Sumeet Shah, an executive, drove more than 32km from his home in Maryland to an Indian restaurant in Virginia, which opened doors for customers in the wee hours yesterday. Sumeet was joined by nearly 50 other Indian-American fans at Hot Bread, the restaurant that was screening the match live.
Several of the fans were holding Indian flags while others had the Tricolor painted on their faces.
Mumbai: Twenty-eight years on from the match that transformed the history of world cricket, India recaptured the crown that Kapil Dev and his men first lifted at Lord's in 1983, and this time they did in their very own back yard. An iron-willed 97 from Gautam Gambhir was matched for intensity by the finest captain's innings since Ricky Ponting at Johannesburg eight years ago, as Mahendra Singh Dhoni trumped a poetic century from Mahela Jayawardene to pull off the highest run-chase ever achieved in a World Cup final.
Against a triumphant backdrop at the Wankhede Stadium, victory was sealed by six wickets with 10 balls to spare, as Dhoni - who had promoted himself to No. 5 to heap extra lashings of responsibility onto his own shoulders - rushed through the gears as the victory target drew nearer. With 15 required from 17 balls, he flicked Sri Lanka's only true threat, Lasith Malinga, through midwicket for consecutive boundaries, before smoking Nuwan Kulasekera over long-on to spark the most delirious scenes of celebration ever seen on the subcontinent.
It is a virtually unknown sport in the United States, but cricket draws hundreds of millions of fans around the world. And tomorrow, they will tune in to watch India play Sri Lanka in the finale of the sport's biggest tournament, the Cricket World Cup. Editor and commentator Sandip Roy is in Calcutta, India, where cricket fever is running high. He tells host Michel Martin about the event and its impact on south Asians.
In India, Sachin Tendulkar ceased being a person long ago. To a small group of friends and colleagues, he is human with all the frailties that implies. But to the vast majority he is merely a figure on television, indistinguishable from characters such as Superman and Batman.
The illusion is strengthened by the number of occasions he arrives when the team is in trouble and takes them to safety, whipping out his killer straight drive and unstoppable cover drive to deal with the enemy's vicious outswingers or off breaks.