Pakistan cricket team on Thursday defended the hoisting of the country's national flag during training sessions in Bangladesh. Pakistan are in Bangladesh for the first time in five years. The two teams will play three T20Is and two Test matches, starting November 19 in Dhaka. (More Cricket News)
The visiting team's decision to hoist its national flag at the Mirpur ground in Dhaka on Tuesday has created a huge controversy in Bangladesh with many demanding the cancellation of the cricket series.
Pakistan team training and practice session underway in Dhaka, Bangladesh #HarHaalMainCricket | #BANvPAK pic.twitter.com/zHcLajpwtq— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) November 16, 2021
Bangladeshi fans took the move as a political message ahead of the golden jubilee celebrations of the nation's independence. Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan, was liberated in 1971 after a bloody war.
The media manager of the Pakistan cricket team in Bangladesh has issued a clarification on Thursday, saying "it is nothing new for us. It is part of the coaching philosophy of Saqlain Mushtaq since he joined the team."
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had installed spin legend Saqlian as the interim head coach of the Pakistan national cricket team after the resignation of Misbah-ul-Haq ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup.
"He feels by putting up the flag it serves as an inspiration and motivation for the players," the media manager said during a media interaction held by Pakistani captain Babar Azam.
The manager also admitted that the Pakistan flag had been used during training sessions regularly since Saqlain took charge. It had reportedly happened during the home series preparations against New Zealand and the T20 World Cup.
Soon after the controversy came to light, the PCB got into damage control and said they started the practice of putting up the national flag during practice sessions two months ago.
Babar claimed that there was plenty of support for the Pakistan team in Bangladesh.
"They not only support their team but they also cheer us up. Whenever we have gone out for training the people cheer us when they see us in the bus. That is why it's good that 50 per cent of spectators have been allowed for our T20 series," the 27-year-old said.
A fan wrote in a Twitter post: "Different countries have come to Bangladesh innumerable times, many matches have been played but neither party needed to practice burying their national flag on the ground. But why did do that... What does it indicate?”
Different countries have come to #Bangladesh innumerable times, many matches have been played by practicing.But neither party needed to practice burying their national flag on the ground.But why did #Pakistan do that...— Misbah ur Rahman (@95MRahman) November 15, 2021
What does it indicate?#BANvPAK pic.twitter.com/bxUyTq5K1s
And some others demanded the cancellation of the series.
Go back Pakistan. Bangladesh should stop the series. Ban any kind of Pakistani flag in Bangladesh.#RecogniseTheGenicide1971 https://t.co/viUEAx5Nfq— Shahajada Shah Pervez ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ§ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ© (@ShahajadaShahP) November 15, 2021
Traditionally during international or bilateral matches, the national flags of the participating countries are hoisted during the games at the stadium across the world.
But the Bangladesh Cricket Board imposed a restriction on carrying foreign flags by spectators in 2014, a decision which was later withdrawn following widespread criticism.
The Pakistan cricket team arrived in Dhaka on Monday.