Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Recently, former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria opened up on the discrimination he faced from his teammates during his playing days for being a Hindu. Kaneria revealed that former captain Shahid Afridi wanted him to give up Hinduism and convert to Islam. 

It’s always Pakistan cricketers who have brought religion to the field. India registered a resounding victory against Pakistan in a league match of the ODI World Cup 2023 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on October 14. However, Pakistan fans couldn’t accept the defeat and instead, they focused on a passionate moment when spectators on the ground greeted their wicket-keeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans. Moreover, several former Pakistani cricketers and their board (PCB) also joined the bandwagon to target Gujarat and then India for what they claimed was an outrageous religious jibe made at Rizwan. They also went on to complain about the incident to ICC.

However, the fans of Green Army forgot the fact that Rizwan is frequently spotted praying on the cricket field where his team won. While it is possible that his prayers were not aimed at the Hindu-majority Indian team, it’s worth mentioning that Pakistan’s former cricketer Waqar Younis expressed joy that Rizwan prayed ‘in front of Hindus’.

Moreover, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Pakistani team as a whole often struggles to separate their sport from religious sentiments. It’s almost unclear whether they’re playing cricket or pursuing a religious mission.

There are many instances in the past as well when the Pakistani cricketers have brought religion to the cricket field. For some instances, the then captain of the Pakistan team- Mushtaq Mohammed called Pakistan’s test series win against India a ‘victory of Muslims worldwide over Hindus’ in 1978. Former cricketer Shahid Afridi had made headlines for boasting about smashing a TV upon witnessing his daughter perform the ‘aarti’.

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar once explained the concept of Ghazwa-e-Hind by saying that that ‘they will first capture Kashmir and then invade India’. Moreover, former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq had once said that ‘if Muslims show their Muslim-ism, not one human on earth will remain non-Muslim’.