On-screen spat: PTV Sports anchor Dr Nauman Niaz apologises to Shoaib Akhtar after backlash

ISLAMABAD (PEN): After strong backlash from Pakistanis, PTV Sports anchor Dr Nauman Niaz has finally apologised to Shoaib Akhtar over his verbal spat with the latter during a live TV show.

The “insult” of Akhtar on the state-owned TV channel last month had sparked anger among cricket fans. The TV host had told the cricket star to leave the show in the presence of cricket legends like Sir Viv Richards and David Gower.

Amid a call to sack Niaz, an inquiry was conducted after which he was taken off air by the PTV management.

In a statement on a YouTube channel , the anchor said that the reaction to what he did on air was justified and “I apologised thousands of times over my conduct.”

“Whatever the reason, I had no right to do all this on-air, it was my fault. Shoaib Akhtar is a star and I love his cricket,” Niaz said.

Niaz shared that after the programme, his father said that he did not expect this [behaviour] from him [Niaz] and that it was a mistake.

Accepting his mistake, Niaz admitted he should have handled the situation better as Akhtar was the star on the show and he [Niaz] was only the host.

“It shouldn’t have happened. I’m ready to pay the price and am paying.”

Earlier, speaking on Geo News programme Jashn-e-Cricket, Akhtar said he had forgiven Dr Niaz for the sake of the country and state institutions.

Akhtar had said he kept waiting for Niaz to apologise, but he did not, compelling him to leave the show.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had also taken notice of the incident, with Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad saying that the premier had called for immediate action.

Meanwhile, Akhtar said he had sat down for a brief period before leaving the show as West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards had asked him to.

“I did all this so that other stars won’t have to suffer the same fate […] I don’t hate anybody,” he had said.

What had happened?

On October 27, Akhtar and Niaz became embroiled in a spat during the PTV Sports show Game on Hai.

The two were discussing Pakistan’s victory over New Zealand when tensions between the host of the show and the former cricketer escalated.

As Akhtar was going through some cricket trivia — during which he credited Pakistan Super League’s Lahore Qalandars team on 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 had told a dumbstruck Akhtar, cutting him short and moving to the next guest for their comment.

When the show resumed, Akhtar apologised to the guests and said he could not carry on due to the rude behaviour of the host and resigned.