Reacting to the criticism received after a heated argument with former cricketer Shoaib Akhtar, sports anchor Dr Nauman Niaz said, “one side of the story always attracts.”
The PTV Sports show “Game on Hai” saw some unwanted drama late Tuesday night, soon after Pakistan thrashed New Zealand in the T20 World Cup.
During the programme on Tuesday, Dr Nauman Niaz and speedster Shoaib Akhtar had engaged in a controversy involving Haris Rauf.
“I wonder why one has to be reminded @shoaib100mph is a star,” Niaz wrote on Twitter following a backlash on social media.
“He [Akhtar] has been the best of the best, he shall always be. He has brought laurels to the country is undeniable,” he added.
Niaz further added: “One side of the story always attracts [attention] nonetheless having been friends for ages I’ll always wish him the best.”
What happened in the show?
The controversy had erupted when the guests got together to analyse the game after Pakistan’s victory.
As Akhtar was going through some cricket trivia — during which he credited the Pakistan Super League’s Lahore Qalandars team for discovering Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf — Niaz, seemed to take offence and snapped back at Akhtar.
“You’re being a little rude and I don’t want to say this: but if you’re being over smart, you can go. I am saying this on-air,” Niaz told a dumbstruck Shoaib, cutting him short and moving to the next guest for their comment.
It wasn’t clear what rubbed Niaz the wrong way, and it seemed Shoaib himself was caught off guard.
As the tension in the room heightened following the interruption, Niaz called for a commercial break.
The show later resumed, but the atmosphere remained charged, and Akhtar, despite making an effort, seemingly struggled to get over the way he had been cut off.
He eventually decided to walk away from the show after apologising to the other guests, which included the likes of Sana Mir, Sir Viv Richards and David Gower, among others.
“A lot of apologies guys, a lot of apologies. I am resigning from PTV. The way I have been treated on national TV, I don’t think I should be sitting here right now. So, I am resigning. Thank you very much,” he said, before unclipping his mic and getting up from the table.
Niaz, seemingly undeterred by Shoaib’s departure, continued reading from his script as if nothing had happened.
Akhtar later issued a video statement on Twitter clarifying his position on the matter, saying he had been ready to bury the hatchet to prevent further embarrassment.
However, he said he did ask for an apology on air from Niaz, which Niaz refused to give.
“Multiple clips are circulating on social media so I thought I should clarify. Dr Noman was obnoxious and rude when he asked me to leave the show, it was embarrassing especially when you have legends like Sir Vivian Richards and David Gower sitting on the set with some of my contemporaries and seniors and millions watching.
“I tried to save everyone from embarrassment by saying I was pulling Dr Noman’s leg with this mutual understanding that Dr Noman will also politely apologise and we will move on with the show, which he refused to do. Then I had no other choice,” Akhtar said.
The incident invited outrage on Twitter, with many calling for Nauman Niaz to be sacked for insulting a national legend on live TV.