Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has recently stirred a storm with his explosive comments alleging religious discrimination faced by Danish Kaneria form his former teammates. Kaneria, one of Pakistan’s most successful spinners, was only the second Hindu player to represent Pakistan after his maternal uncle Anil Dalpat.
Akhtar pointed to Kaneria’s match-winning performances in the 2005 Test series against England where he was pivotal in Pakistan’s 2-0 win but despite his esteemed services to Pakistan cricket, Kaneria was allegedly barred from eating at the same table as others because of his faith.
Danish Kaneria, Shoaib Akhtar, Younis Khan and Kamran Akmal in action
“So what if someone is a Hindu, he is doing well for the team. They used to say 'sir ye yaaha se khaana kaise le raha hain' (how is he taking food from this place)? The same Hindu won the Test for us against England. If he is taking a bagful of wickets for Pakistan, he should play,” Akhtar had said during a local TV show.
Kaneria had a distinguished career with Pakistan, donning the national jersey in 61 Tests and taking 261 wickets at an average of 34.79. He was later banned from cricket after being caught in a fixing scandal in England’s county circuit.
Responding to Akhtar’s comments, Kaneria maintained that the Rawalpindi Express’ claims were true and he would reveal the identity of the players who discriminated against him in due course.
"Shoaib has been a legend of the game. His words are also as blunt as his bowling. When I was playing I did not have the courage to speak on these matters but after Shoaib bhai's comments, I do. He has always supported me and also Inzy bhai (Inzaman-ul-Haq), Mohammad Yusuf and Younis bhai (Younish bhai)," the leggie said.
"Those who did not support me, I will make their names public soon. Having said that, I feel fortunate and honoured that I got to play for Pakistan," Kaneria added.