Former Indian cricketers Venkatesh Prasad, Aakash Chopra, and noted commentator Harsha Bhogle on Tuesday slammed ex-Pakistan captain Waqar Younis for his controversial statement that opener Mohammad Rizwan offering namaz "in front of Hindus was very special to him".
Rizwan, who emerged as the protagonist in Pakistan's historic win over India at the ICC World T20, had offered Namaz during the drinks break in Dubai on Sunday. A video of Rizwan offering namaz had gone viral.
In a conversation with Shoaib Akhtar and Pakistani journalist, former Pakistan bowling coach Waqar said that Rizwan performing Namaz during the match was a special moment for him.
"Sabse ache baat jo Rizwan ne ki. Usne ground mein khade hoke Naamaz padhe, hinduon ke beech mein...So that was really something very very special for me. (What I liked the most is what Rizwan did. He stood in the middle of the ground and read the prayers, in front of the Hindus)," Waqar was quoted as saying by Arya News.
Waqar's remark did not go down well with fans and has irked a few former Indian cricketers too.
Reacting to his remarks, former Indian pacer Venkatesh Prasad called Waqar a shameless man.
"Hinduon ke beech me khade hoke namaaz padi, that was very very special for me" - Waqar. Takes jihadi mindset of another level to say this in a sport. What a shameless man," tweeted Prasad.
Meanwhile, noted commentator Bhogle also took to Twitter and labelled the statement of the pace legend as one of the most disappointing things he has heard lately.
"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," tweeted Bhogle in a lengthy thread about Waqar's controversial statement.
"You would think that cricketers, as ambassadors of our game, would be a little more responsible. I am sure there will be an apology on the way from Waqar. We need to unite the cricket world, not divide it by religion.
"I really hope that a lot of genuine sports lovers in Pakistan are able to see the dangerous side to this statement and join in my disappointment. It makes it very difficult for sports lovers like us to try and tell people it is just sport, just a cricket match," he added.
Taking cognisance of Waqar's remarks, cricketer turned commentator Aakash Chopra also tweeted, "Et tu, Waqar!"
Babar Azam-led Pakistani t'am defeated Virat Kohli's India by 10 wickets in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 match in Dubai on Sunday. Before this game, Pakistan had never won a World Cup match against India in any format.