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India lucky to have a stable captain like Dhoni: Afridi

KARACHI: India are lucky to have a ‘stable’ captain like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, says to Pakistan’s ODI skipper Shahid Afridi who is still trying to play down his negative remarks against Indians that caused an uproar. “I thought Dhoni led the Indians very shrewdly and performed brilliantly in the final. India is lucky to have a stable captain like him,” Afridi was quoted as saying on Thursday. “He had a big role to play in the Indian victory and I am sure this victory means a lot for Indian cricket and their people. But I also hope the World Cup coming back to Asia will also boost the sport in this region again and normalise bilateral Indo-Pak cricket relations,” he said.

Afridi acknowledged that India were the better side on that day and deserved to win the World Cup. “They were the better side and deserved to win the World Cup. Any side that can beat us should win the World Cup,” he said. Afridi heaped praise on Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, saying that his hunger for runs was amazing and he still had plenty to offer to Indian cricket. “His hunger for runs is amazing and only he can best decide what he wants to do in the future. But I can tell you this age is no bar to his success in either Tests or one-day internationals,” he said. Afridi said he did not have any words to describe the Indian maestro and disclosed that he had a framed jersey autographed by Tendulkar in his drawing room.

The Pakistan captain once again played down his negative remarks about Indian people that he made on a Pakistani television channel talk show that has caused an uproar in the neighboring country. “I have nothing against the Indian people and I have always enjoyed going to India as the people there appreciate and support good cricket and players,” Afridi said. “The remarks I made on the show have been misunderstood and taken out of context. My main emphasis was that sports should not be mixed with politics and there were some elements who didn’t want the people of the two countries to get closer,” Afridi clarified. “It is unfortunate whenever someone tries to bring politics into sport. This is unacceptable and will only lead to misunderstandings,” he said.

Afridi said cricket can bring the two countries closer and it was a very positive gesture on part of the Indian Prime Minister to invite his Pakistani counterpart to Mohali for the match. “I know for a fact that Pakistanis who were in Mohali for the match enjoyed themselves thoroughly and were looked after well even though the disappointment of losing the semifinal was great,” he noted.