Pakistan vs Afghanistan: 'Love of the players' caused pitch invasion, says Gulbadin

Fans ran onto the pitch after Pakistan edged Afghanistan, whose captain Gulbadin Naib could understand the passionate celebrations.

Pakistan fans let off flares after during a World Cup 2019 group stage between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Headingley.   -  Getty Images

Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib offered a defence of the fans who invaded the pitch at Headingley but implored them to stay in the stands in future.

Pakistan edged a Cricket World Cup classic in Leeds on Saturday, Imad Wasim's ice-cool 49 seeing his side home with two balls to spare in pursuit of 228.

READ | World Cup 2019: Imad, Wahab heroics keep Pakistan alive

Supporters of both teams had clashed earlier in the day, while some attempted to enter the ground without tickets, and there were further ugly scenes towards the end of the dramatic run chase.

More confrontations preceded several fans running onto the pitch after Imad struck the winning runs, and one spectator appeared to come into contact with Afghanistan's Hashmatullah Shahidi as he made his way off the playing area.

"Actually, everyone, they love their players, they love their heroes," Gulbadin said. "They also want to meet everyone. So they're not teasing the players on the ground. They don't want to harm anyone. They just want to hug and touch. So for me it's nothing.

"It's not good for them coming on the ground. So…you can say discipline-wise it's not feeling good at the end. They should be outside the playing area. So I'm saying that I think they love the players. That's why they come on the ground."

 

Asked if he felt let down by the behaviour of some fans, Gulbadin said: "No, no…I love this kind of audience to cause the cheering, both sides. Also our fans, they were watching very closely.

"But from my side, I think they love the players because it's really difficult to reach them anywhere because everyone has their dream players and they're watching them in these kinds of matches."

Imad's match-winning effort saw his side move above tournament hosts England and into the semifinal places, but the all-rounder was keen to praise Afghanistan, which has lost all eight games in the competition so far.

IN PICTURES | Pakistan edges Afghanistan in a thriller, stays alive

"Credit goes to Afghanistan. I think the last five years they rose up," he said. "And look at that, they're giving a tough time to every team.

"They gave India a tough time. They gave us a tough time. So Afghanistan, I think, is a force to reckon with in a couple of years' time."

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