Former India cricketer Ashok Malhotra on Wednesday apologised for his disparaging remarks in which he labelled the Assam players of his time as “second-class citizens”. Malhotra made the remark after Bengal suffered a shock loss to Assam in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy pre-quarterfinals in Mohali on Tuesday. Malhotra, who also coached Bengal after his playing days, said on air, “Humare zamane mein Assam ke team ko second-class citizens mana jata thaa (During my playing days, the Assam team was called second-class citizen.”

A day later, Malhotra, who played seven Tests and 20 ODIs for the country, issued an unconditional apology on X following an uproar, saying, “I apologise profusely if I have hurt Assam people’s sentiments with my comments during the Assam v Bengal game last evening.

“I am sorry. It was totally unintentional and was trying to speak about their progress. I regret it and give an unconditional apology.” Meanwhile, in the match, Assam captain Riyan Parag had notched up his seventh consecutive half-century as his team thrashed Bengal by eight wickets to qualify for the SMAT quarterfinals.

A video of Parag gesturing towards the commentary box and supposedly showing his displeasure with Malhotra’s comments has gone viral on social media. Parag had smashed an unbeaten 31-ball 50.

Riyan Parag notched up his seventh consecutive half-century as Assam defeated Bengal eight wickets to qualify for the quarterfinals.

Assam were powered by an all-round show by their skipper Parag, who had earlier returned with figures of 4-0-23-2, whereas Akash Sengupta’s 3/29 helped them restrict Bengal to a modest 138/8 in their 20 overs.

Invited to bat, a few Bengal batters got starts but failed to convert them into big knocks.

Karan Lal top-scored with 24 while opener Abhimanyu Easwaran made 21. Abhishek Porel made 23 and Kaushik Maity scored a late 21 not out.

Assam lost Denish Das (10) early in the fourth over but Rishav Das did well to hit a 26-ball 31.

Bishal Roy (45 not out, 36 balls, 6x4s, 1x6s) and Parag finished the job for their side, remaining unbeaten on 50 off 31 balls and hit four sixes and two fours in the process.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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