NEW DELHI: Indian cricket stars Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh have hit out at Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi for his comments that Indians do not have “big clean hearts” like Pakistani Muslims.
Afridi also praised Pakistan's media for being “100 times better” than India's in a Pakistani TV show aired Sunday that has caused hurt and anger across the border in India.
“If Indians were not large-hearted, they would not have made so much of progress and delivered growth,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.
“I think it's been an uncalled for reaction. It wouldn't help the love and respect with which he is treated in this country.”
India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan in a much-hyped semi-final attended by the leaders of both countries before beating Sri Lanka in Mumbai last week to regain the World Cup after 28 years.
“Pakistanis indeed have very large hearts which is evident by their generous gesture of dropping so many catches against India during the semi-final clash,” Yuvraj, named man of the tournament, told The Times of India.
“India would not have gone to the final had it not been for Pakistan's large-heartedness!”
Pakistan dropped four catches of Sachin Tendulkar who went on to make a vital 85 and fashion India's 29-run win over their rivals.
Afridi insisted later that his remarks had been taken out of context, although he stood by his comments about the Indian media.
His remarks shocked fans in India, who had greeted his efforts during the World Cup to promote harmony between the estranged neighbours whose diplomatic relations are fraught with tension.