Sports

Shahid Afridi defends himself after media row

LAHORE: Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi defended himself Thursday after a row with a television journalist that prompted the media to briefly boycott coverage of an ongoing training camp, saying he “always respects others”.

Afridi was asked by Dunya News journalist Sanaullah Khan at the camp in Lahore on Wednesday how he would improve his captaincy after a recent 3-0 loss against England in the United Arab Emirates saw Pakistan plummet to sixth in the world Twenty20 rankings, from a high of second.

A miffed Afridi retorted: “I expected you to ask such a pathetic and low question, someone ask the next question please.”

The dismissive reply on live television ignited anger among journalists, who boycotted the remainder of the planned events on Wednesday and demanded an apology.

On Thursday, Afridi defended himself and accepted responsibility for the humiliation in the UAE.

“I always respect others and demand the same from others,” he said.

“It’s under my captaincy that the team rose to number two but we made basic errors to lose against England and that affected our rankings.”

Team manager Intikhab Alam managed to pacify the media, who returned on Thursday to cover the final day of the camp.

“I have talked to Afridi and he has reiterated that he respects the media, so hopefully such an incident will not happen again,” Alam said on Thursday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said the incident should not be blown out of proportion.

“It should not have happened,” PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan told media. “We will look into it but don’t take it as something big.”

Afridi has led Pakistan since Mohammad Hafeez stepped down in 2014, winning six of the last ten matches.

Pakistan will fly to New Zealand on January 10 to play three Twenty20 matches and as many one-day internationals, the first in Auckland on January 15.

Afridi said he was sure the players would improve their rankings during the tour.

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