Kolkata: Floored by the warm reception in India after their arrival for the World Twenty20 Championship, Pakistan team captain Shahid Afridi and senior all-rounder Shoaib Malik on Sunday said they have never felt any kind of security threat in India.
The Pakistani team touched down last night after getting clearance to travel, a decision that was delayed by several days over security concerns.
However, both Afridi and Malik played down the intense media focus on Pakistan team’s security.
“I’ve not enjoyed playing anywhere as much as I have in India. I am in the last stage of my career and I can say that the love I have got in India is something that I will always remember. We have not got this much love even from Pakistan,” Afridi said.
“There are cricket-loving people here, much like in Pakistan. Overall, I’ve enjoyed a lot playing in India in my cricketing career,” he added.
Echoing Afridi’s sentiment, Malik said he felt honoured to be in India.
“Firstly I would like to thank the Indian Government. The security is very good. My wife is from India and I come to India a lot. I have never faced any security issue,” Malik said.
‘We eat the same food, speak the same language’
“I don’t really see any difference between Pakistani people and the Indians. We eat the same food, we speak the same language. I don’t really see any difference. I am very happy to be in India. I have always got a lot of love from people and from media. I’m honoured to be in India,” he added.
Asked to comment on Pakistan government delaying clearance for their departure by insisting on a written security assurance from India, Afridi side-stepped the query, saying that he would not speak on politics.
“Whatever decision the State takes, we are behind them. We are cricketers and not politicians. Sport always brings two nations together. Can there be anything better than cricket? I think we should keep politics away from it,” Afridi said.
On whether Pakistani players would be distracted by the drama that preceded their arrival, Afridi said: “I think it’s nothing special. We were practising over there. We think about that. Physically and mentally we were ready that we will go definitely.”
“International cricket is all about pressure. The team which handles pressure well wins in the end.”