After former Pakistani cricketer and coach Waqar Younis espoused vitriol against Hindus on a news channel, drenched in the euphoria of a once-in-a-blue-moon victory against the Indian team, commentator Harsha Bhogle came out with a condemnation tweet.
However, his tweet, much like his commentary appeared lop-sided for the opposition and in this case, in Waqar’s favor. He tried to play down the incident by giving the ‘benefit of the doubt’ to Waqar, even when it was clear as day that the former Pakistani cricketer meant every single word of what he said.
Harsha tweeted, “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.”
“I really hope that a lot of genuine sportslovers in Pakistan are able to see the dangerous side to this statement and join in my disappointment. It makes it very difficult for sportslovers like us to try and tell people it is just sport, just a cricket match,” he added whilst also hoping that Waqar would apologise.
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.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 26, 2021
While Harsha was characteristically neutral, it was former Indian speedster Venkatesh Prasad that steamed in his trademark bowling style and once again rattled the middle stump of another Pakistani player.
Slamming Waqar Younus for his ‘Namaz’ comment, Prasad said that the former Pakistani cricketer took his Jihadi mindset to the next level through his comment.
“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.
Unlike Harsha, Venkatesh is known for wearing his religion on his sleeve. He is unapologetic about his customs and Hindu beliefs. The left-liberal cabal of the country routinely targets Venkatesh for his statements but the speedster remains unflustered.
As for Harsha, he has been called out in the past by Amitabh Bachchan and MS Dhoni for playing for the opposition. In 2016, after India beat Bangladesh in a T20 World Cup match, despite Harsha tweeting and speaking about Bangladesh nearly all the time, Amitabh had tweeted, without taking Harsha’s name.
“With all due respects, it would be really worthy of an Indian commentator to speak more about our players than others all the time.” MS Dhoni, who is usually not active on social media platforms had quote tweeted Amitabh’s tweet by captioning, “Nothing to add”
T 2184 – With all due respects, it would be really worthy of an Indian commentator to speak more about our players than others all the time.
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 23, 2016
Nothing to add https://t.co/8rBel3vw4o
— Mahendra Singh Dhoni (@msdhoni) March 23, 2016
Rizwan offering Namaz was special – Waqar Younis
During a talk show on a news channel on Monday (October 25) Waqar said that it was very special for him when Mohammad Rizwan recited the Namaz in front of Hindus during the match.
“The manner in which Babar and Rizwan batted, sensible yet aggressive, the strike-rotation, the look on their faces, it was amazing. The best thing, what Rizwan did, Mashallah, he offered the Namaz on the ground surrounded by Hindus, that was really something very very special for me.”
“Hindoon k beech mein kharay ho kar namaz parhi, that was very special.” This bigotry is expert cricket analysis for you. pic.twitter.com/NDmdfr0wz3
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) October 26, 2021
After Waqar’s statements snowballed into a controversy, he was forced to render a meek apology. Waqar remarked that he said the words in the heat of the moment. “My intentions were never like that. I never comment on religious stuff. I was excited. I saw Rizwan playing and used words that hurt the sentiments of few. I never meant it, it was a game & it was the heat of the moment, I apologize”
– "I never meant it, it was a Game & it was the heat of the moment, I apologise" @waqyounis99 clarifies on what happened earlier.
— Arsalan H. Shah ~ Proud Pakistani (@arsalanhshah) October 26, 2021
However, it is imperative to note that there was no debate ongoing, Waqar was casually sitting and waxing lyrical about Pakistan’s victory. Thus, his apology seems made up and just an attempt to keep the negative press at bay.
It’s not the first time that Pakistani cricketers have shown the deepest, darkest ambitions of their hearts out in the open. Much like Waqar, former Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, batter Saeed Anwar, Shahid Afridi and Mohammed Yousuf amongst others have talked about humiliating non-Muslims.