Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has said he stepped in to stop discrimination based on religion against Danish Kaneria, who was targeted by “one or two” team-mates because he is a Hindu.
Akhtar on Thursday had claimed that Kaneria faced discrimination at the hands of a few Pakistani players, who were reluctant to even eat with him.
Kaneria supported Akhtar’s claim, saying there were a “few players” who targeted him for being a Hindu during his time with the national team but never felt the urge or the pressure to change his religion.
“We, as a society, should realise that this should be nipped in the bud. I am a product of this society and I did that. I had told them (the players) I will throw you out if you talk like this (about Kaneria’s faith). Because this is not our culture,” Akhtar said in his Youtube channel on Saturday night.
“There is unwritten contract that we got to respect every player no matter what. But there was some hesitation shown by a few players but this is not our team’s code of conduct. This is just one-two players and these kinds of players are there all over the world who pass racist comments,” he added.
In the video, the 44-year-old former speedster said, “We, as a nation, did not let such discriminatory thoughts prevail. We stopped it there. We have improved a lot as a society in the last 10-15 years.
“I watched the mess that was made of my statement, which was taken completely out of context,” Akhtar wrote on his twitter handle, attaching the video of his YouTube channel.
Kaneria played 61 Tests for Pakistan, claiming 261 wickets, and Akhtar heaped praise on the former leg-spinner.
“Danish has helped Pakistan win a lot of matches. Danish has played for Pakistan for 10 years. He was played over Mushtaq Ahmed. I still feel he should have been played two years earlier.”
The 39-year-old Kaneria is currently serving a life ban for spot-fixing alongside Mervyn Westfield while playing for English county Essex against Durham in 2009.
Kaneria, who had admitted to spot-fixing in 2018 after six years of denial, on Saturday alleged that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the government did not offer him any help after being banned from the sport.
“Danish Kaneria was never left out (of the team) by Pakistan. He was dropped because of the ECB. He had a match-fixing issue and the ECB penalised him for that. Pakistan did no wrong to him,” Akhtar said.