Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Monday backed former teammate Shoaib Akhtar’s proposal for an One-day International series against India to help raise funds for the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Afridi told reporters in Kohat that he was surprised by the comments of World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev and former Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla, who outrightly dismissed Akhtar’s suggestion.

“The entire world is fighting against coronavirus and we need unity in our region to defeat this common enemy. Such negative comments don’t help at all,” Afridi said.

“I don’t see anything wrong with Shoaib Akhtar’s suggestion for Pakistan and India to play cricket. Kapil’s reaction has surprised me. I expected better from him and feel one should not talk like this in these crisis times.”

Afridi said that he was also surprised at some of the “negative comments” Indian stars Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh’s support for his charity foundation attracted.

“Sport is supposed to bring people together and build bridges. It is pretty disappointing.”

Afridi also urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to order the Pakistan Cricket Board to restore departmental cricket in the country to save the livelihood of hundreds of domestic players.
“I myself played for the departments and witnessed how departments really salvaged domestic cricket in Pakistan and helped it thrive decade after decade.

“Departments take good care of the players and spend lots of money on the development of domestic cricket, so how can departmental cricket hurt Pakistan cricket,” questioned Afridi.

He also questioned the PCB and the Pakistan team management for making a fitness of players a smajor criteria for selection.

“They are always talking about hard training and fitness tests,” Afridi said. “I have never seen fitness tests taken with such frequency and the result is that many players are getting injured and many of them are also unhappy with the situation,” he added.