LAHORE: Former cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has claimed that his fellow teammate and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was discriminated in the Pakistan team because of his religion.
While talking in a TV show on Pakistan Television (PTV), Akhtar revealed that once a Pakistan player had an issue with Kaneria eating from the same place as his other teammates.
“I dont want to bring this out in the open but once someone said ‘Sir, why is he eating from here [implying same place as others]’ , I said I am going to throw you out because this man is getting wickets for your country,” Shoaib was quoted as saying by pakpassion.net. “It was said that I had something to do with the win in the England series but the fact is that Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Sami were the real reasons we won”
“So why wasn’t Danish Kaneria given credit? This used to really rile me up,” he added. Akhtar was also critical of the regional bias that was prevalent in Pakistan cricket. “The times I had issues with people was when people spoke about regionalism; when they spoke about being from Peshawar or Karachi, then I used to get really angry,” he said.
Kaneria confirmed the allegations of religious discrimination while talking to Indian media. “He [Akhtar] told the truth. I’ll reveal names of players who didn’t like to talk to me as I was a Hindu. Didn’t have courage to speak on it, but now I will,” Kaneria said while talking to Times Now.
Kaneria, who was banned from cricket in 2012 for fixing allegations, had reportedly also approched the BCCI for help in fighting his case to clear his name a few years ago. Kaneria played 61 Test matches for Pakistan and took 261 wickets at an average of 34.79.
Inzamam refutes claim
Former Pakistan captain Inzamamul Haq has refuted banned leg-spinner Danish Kaneria’s claim of religious discrimination in the Pakistan team during his tenure.
While speaking in a Youtube video, Inzamam said that all players were treated equally in the Pakistan team. “The captain who Danish Kaneria played under the most was me and I never felt that there was any such thing in our team, that any player treats another player badly if he is a non-Muslim,” said Inzamam. “I am not ready to accept that we have such small hearts, that we would do a thing like this and that we didn’t accept someone.”
“When we went on tours like in Sharjah, Indian and Pakistani players would be in the same hotel and I’d often see players sitting in each other’s rooms, joking around and eating together,” he added.
Inzamam also dispelled the perception about those players being preferred who were religious.
“Mushtaq Ahmed was a good friend of mine since childhood but I gave Danish Kaneria selection preference because he was Pakistan’s future and Mushtaq was dropped in my captaincy,” he said. So there was no such thing as players were only picked if they offered namaz.”
Kaneria’s former teammate and fellow leg-spinner Shahid Afridi also insisted that he never witnessed Kaneria being victimised because of his religion. “Never heard or came to know of any such thing in my entire association with Danish Kaneria at any level of cricket we played together,” said Afridi.
Yousaf rubbishes allegations
Former Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Yousuf has rubbished speedster Shoaib Akhtar’s claim of religious discrimination in the Pakistan team during their playing days.
Akhtar had claimed, during a talk show, that his fellow teammate and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was discriminated in the Men in Green’s dressing room because of his religion.
The batting legend took to his Twitter account to condemn the aforementioned allegations. “I condemn the comments made about discrimination regarding players from the minority in the Pakistan Team. I have been a member of the team & I’ve always had a lot of love & support from the team, the management & the fans! Pakistan Zindabad,” tweeted Yousaf.
Yousaf, who was born a Christian, converted to Islam in 2005 after being a regular at preaching sessions of Tablighi Jamaat.