Was targetted but never felt need or pressure to convert: Kaneria

Was targetted but never felt need or pressure to convert: Kaneria

KARACHI: Pakistan’s banned Test leg-spinner Danish Kaneria on Friday said there were a “few players” who targetted him for being a Hindu during his time with the national team but he never felt the urge or the pressure to change his religion. The spinner, who is serving a life ban for spot-fixing, has been brought into focus after former pacer Shoaib Akhtar alleged that some Pakistani players refused to even share food with him due to his faith.

Speaking to ‘Samaa’ channel on Friday, Kaneria said a few players made remarks about him behind his back. “(But) I never made an issue of it. I just ignored them because I wanted to focus on my cricket and bring victories for Pakistan,” he said.

“Look I am a proud Hindu and Pakistani. I would like to make it clear here don’t try to portray our cricket fraternity in Pakistan in negative manner because there are a lot of people who have supported me and backed me regardless of my religion,” he added.

When asked about former batsman Yousuf Youhana, a Christian who converted to Islam, Kaneria said he would not comment on an individual choice. “What Muhammad Yousuf did was his personal decision but I never felt the need to change my religion because I believe in it and no one forced me either to do it,” he said. When pressed on Akhtar’s comments, Kaneria chose to side-step a day after acknowledging the discrimination and threatening to come out with names.

“Shoaib bhai has said what he must have heard or someone must have told him but I have represented Pakistan at the highest level and I feel proud of it. When I came into cricket I always wanted to represent Pakistan at the highest level and I did that,” he said.

The leg-spinner, who played 61 Tests for Pakistan, made it clear that former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq always supported him. “Inzamam called me a match-winner. I can say lot of institutions supported me in my career. I always did my best on the ground to prove Inzamam right. The fact is I am proud to be a Pakistani,” he said.

Pressed to name those few players who he felt targetted him, Kaneria said he would reveal their names later on his YouTube channel. “The time is not right and I will use my channel to talk about it.”

Asked to recall any incident where players refused to eat with him, Kaneria said, “Pakistan is my janamBhumi and I don’t think anyone should politicise this issue or our cricket fraternity because of a few players’ behaviour. I request everyone don’t give it a wrong angle.” PTI

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