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HomeSportPakistan-Afghanistan nail-biting Asia Cup match ends in ugly scenes, 'xenophobic abuse'

Pakistan-Afghanistan nail-biting Asia Cup match ends in ugly scenes, ‘xenophobic abuse’

Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by 1 wicket Wednesday to qualify for final; disappointed Afghan fans threw chairs at Pak supporters prompting many to hurl racist abuse at their neighbour.

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New Delhi: The ongoing Asia Cup in UAE witnessed a nail-biter Wednesday between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but sportsmanship took a beating in the end when high emotions escalated into fury on and off the field.

Pakistan defeated its northwestern neighbour by one wicket in the final over with tailender Naseem Shah hitting two consecutive sixes off the bowling of Fazalhaq Farooqi to chase down a modest target of 130 on a challenging pitch.

Pakistan’s win knocked out Afghanistan as well as India, and the country will now face Sri Lanka in the finals in Dubai on Sunday.

However, the closely fought game on Wednesday was overshadowed by unseemly scenes both on the pitch and in the stadium, leading to detentions by the police.

In the penultimate over, in-form Pakistani batsman Asif Ali holed out to Afghanistan fielder Karim Janat off the bowling of left-arm seamer Fareed Ahmad. Fareed and Asif nearly came to blows after the dismissal.

While it is yet to be ascertained the exact words exchanged between the two, spectators saw Asif threatening to hit Fareed with his bat as the bowler exuberantly celebrated and shouted behind him. The bowler’s teammates then pulled him back.

With emotions running high as Naseem Shah hit the winning sixes off Fazalhaq Farooqi’s full tosses, the situation in the stadium became a free-for-all. Frustrated Afghanistan fans were seen uprooting seats and throwing them at Pakistan supporters.

As clips of this unruly behaviour went viral, Afghanistan got the stick on social media, including from Pakistan ex-cricketer Shoaib Akhtar and YouTuber Asad Ali Toor. Toor called the fan conduct “completely against the sportsman spirit”.

Pakistani entertainment news portal “Niche Lifestyle” re-shared the video by “mohammedkhanani” on Instagram, which got over 4 lakh views, 12,000 likes and nearly 2,000 comments.

The matter didn’t end there, as journalist and WION News’ Pakistan correspondent Anas Mallick reported that UAE Police had detained several Afghan fans for “creating ruckus inside and outside the stadium”. These men now face the threat of deportation or jail time.

Pakistani fans also came under attack for their xenophobic remarks against Afghanistan following the violence.

Pakistani politician from North Waziristan Mohsin Dawar tweeted: “Using a cricket match as an excuse to hurl racist abuse against Afghans is peak shamelessness. Pakistan’s decades old strategic depth policy and interventionist misadventures in Afghanistan is why Afghans have a problem with Pakistan. Introspect before belittling Afghans.”

Pakistani writer and “The Wire” columnist Mohammad Taqi tweeted: “Cussing and even scuffles between players aren’t unknown on a sports pitch. Hooliganism by fans (is) also a known nuisance in several sports. But it is uniquely disgusting that some otherwise sensible people are slurring whole nations based on that. Highly disappointing,”

This is the second time in less than a year that a Pakistan vs Afghanistan match has been spoiled by crowd trouble. The 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup clash between the two nations saw “thousands of ticketless fans” trying to force their way into the Dubai stadium, leading to an investigation by the Dubai Police and criticism of Afghan fans from team captain Mohammad Nabi.

Also read: Boys didn’t play well – As Pakistanis blame Afghans, they forget role in Taliban rise


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