Melbourne:Australia opener Matthew Hayden on Thursday stood by his comment about India being a "third world country" but insisted he never meant to disrespect the nation or its citizens and said by 'third world' he meant a large section of the Indian population that are living below the poverty line.
He also claimed he was fascinated by the diversity of India's culture but feels he was being held at ransom by "certain sections of humanity".
"The politics of cricket, I think, has gone mad. One of the things I love the most about India, is that you walk around the back of the hotel, and there's a man who's selling peanuts on the street for one cent a month, and he holds his head so high, and is so proud, as if he was making $2 million a month.
"It frustrates me that certain sections of humanity want to take someone like myself down, who is a really great admirer of the country, and who has really built his career on the back of the country in a very proud and honoured way," Hayden was quoted as saying by 'The Age'.
"We've had our competitive spats, but I'm sure that's only enhanced the reputation of India. It's made them play better against me, and I've played better against them. "I stand by what I said. There is a large portion of India that is third world, that is below the poverty line. But from my experience, it is those people who I admire the most," he added.
Hayden's comments, used in describing the factors that led to Australia's slow over-rate during the fourth and final Test in Nagpur, not only irked Indian cricket board officials and skipper Mahendra Dhoni but a large section of the general public as well.