New Delhi: Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik's statement at the ICC World Twenty20 award ceremony after the final has sparked off controversy and outrage among viewers who were glued to their television sets on Monday.
In the midst of celebrations in the Indian camp, what ruffled feathers was Malik's comment, which was not seen by many as being in good taste.
At the award ceremony, Malik thanked Muslims all over for their support to the team on a day when two Indian Muslims were part of the victorious team and one of them was declared the Man of the Match.
"I want to thank everyone back home in Pakistan and Muslims all over the world. Thank you very much and I'm sorry that we didn't win, but we did give our 100 per cent," Malik said at the presentation ceremony, after losing to India by five runs in the final of the inaugural Twenty20 World Championships in Johannesburg.
Eminent columnist BG Verghese told CNN-IBN that Malik's post-match remarks were uncalled for. "I think it is sad that he made that statement. The Pakistan team played very well. It was a hard-fought contest, very sporting, but somewhat spoiled at the end by an unnecessary comment, which tends to bring about a communal polarisation."
"It seemed to suggest the state of mind, the fear of reactions at home for all the wrong reasons. It is really unfortunate of him to have made that reference. Muslims of the world have nothing to do with the game, it's just a game. The reference was jarring and uncalled for," Verghese added.
India beat arch-rivals Pakistan by five runs to lift the ICC World Twenty20 Championship at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Monday. Earlier in 2007, however, India and Pakistan had both crashed out in the first round of the limited overs international World Cup in the Caribbean.