ISLAMABAD: Videos showing Afghanistan cricket fans brawling with Pakistanis at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium went viral on Wednesday night after Pakistan snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Afghanistan in a thrilling Asia Cup contest.
Fast bowler Naseem Shah saved the day for Pakistan by smashing two consecutive sixes in the last over to see Pakistan through to the final. Defeat seemed certain for Pakistan, who had one wicket in hand and required 11 runs off the last over. Pakistan’s victory sent India crashing out of the Asia Cup 2022 and ensured the green shirts had secured a berth in the final of the tournament.
However, things got heated on and off the pitch. First, Pakistani batter Asif Ali indulged in a verbal spat and almost came to blows with Afghanistan’s Fareed Ahmad during the match. The two were separated by Afghanistan cricketers before the confrontation escalated.
As soon as the match was over, videos showed Pakistan and Afghanistan fans in the stadium clashing with one another. In one of the videos, fans of the two teams can be seen throwing chairs at each other, hurling obscenities at the same time.
The incident drew a sharp reaction from former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who blamed Afghanistan cricket fans for the violence and pointed out that this was not the first time that clashes had broken out after a Pakistan-Afghanistan match.
“This is what Afghan fans are doing. This is what they’ve done in the past multiple times,” he wrote on Twitter. “This is a game and its supposed to be played and taken in the right spirit.”
Shafiq Stanikzai, former CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) responded to Akhtar, saying that one “can’t control the emotions of the crowd and such.” He pointed out that Afghanistan cricketers had always shown love and respect to Pakistani legends Inzamam ul Haq, Rashid Latif and others.
Pakistani actor, TV host and singer Fakhr-e-Alam said it was “absolutely lethal” how some of the fans were throwing chairs, disregarding that the chairs could hit women and children in the stands.
Visuals from Tuesday night brought back memories of Pakistan and Afghanistan cricket fans brawling with one other outside the Leeds cricket stadium when Pakistan beat Afghanistan in the 2019 World Cup.
Ties between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan have remained strained over the past couple of decades due to various political reasons. Tensions between the two countries have resulted in an intense cricketing rivalry over the past couple of years, especially since Afghanistan emerged as a strong cricket side that has performed well in international tournaments.