Ahmed Shehzad © Getty Images
Kirti Azad wondered if Ahmed Shehzad (above) has been selected as a preacher © Getty Images

New Delhi: Sep 4, 2014

Former Indian cricketer Kirti Azad has slammed the actions of Pakistani batsman Ahmed Shehzad, who allegedly told Sri Lankan player Tillakaratne Dilshan to convert to Islam.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Azad said, “Has Shehzad been selected to play cricket or has he been selected as a Maulana to preach Islam? He should know that if a player is picked to play for his country, then he is an ambassador of his country and should do what he was picked to do – play – rather than give sermons.”

Azad also linked Shehzad’s actions to those of the Islamic State (IS). “We can see what is happening in Iraq and Syria. Will this sort of extremist element creep into sports as well?” he wondered. He also called for strict action against Shehzad, saying, “Not only has such an incident never happened to us, we could never even dream that it could happen to a fellow player. Strict action will have to be taken against him.”

During the third one day international between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at Dambulla, television cameras had reportedly caught Shehzad talking to Dilshan, who had a Muslim father, saying, “If you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to heaven.” While Dilshan’s reply was allegedly inaudible, Shehzad’s reply was, “Then be ready for the fire.”