In cricket, gestures and camaraderie often make headlines as much as the game itself. Recently, a post-match interaction between Virat Kohli and Babar Azam took the cricketing world by storm. This seemingly innocent act of goodwill raised eyebrows, especially among cricket pundits, and sparked a debate about the appropriateness of such a display of friendship after a heavy loss.
The backdrop for this act of sportsmanship was a much-anticipated World Cup league match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. The clash occurred in Ahmedabad, and the atmosphere was electric, with a crowd eagerly anticipating a closely fought battle. However, the match didn’t quite live up to the hype, as India convincingly blanked Pakistan by seven wickets.
After the game, the cricketing world witnessed an unusual sight. Babar Azam and Virat Kohli, two of the game’s modern greats, were seen having an animated conversation on the field. The cameras caught when Kohli handed a couple of Indian jerseys to Babar, accompanied by warm smiles and laughter. This act, an exchange of shirts as a token of goodwill, received widespread appreciation on social media platforms.
However, amidst the cheers and applause, one cricketing legend wasn’t too pleased with this public display of camaraderie. Wasim Akram, the former captain of the Pakistan cricket team and part of the expert panel on ‘The Pavilion,’ a popular Pakistan TV show, voiced his concerns.
During the show, the host, Fakhr-e-Alam, read out a question from a fan. The question expressed concern about the timing of the gesture, considering Pakistan’s disappointing performance and the fans’ hurt sentiments. It suggested that such a private exchange should have occurred behind closed doors, not on the open ground.
Wasim Akram concurred with the fan’s sentiment. He emphasized that “today was not the day” for such a public exchange, especially after a heavy loss in a high-stakes game. He shared his reservations about the timing and location of the shirt exchange, believing that it should have taken place in the dressing room after the match if Babar Azam wished to accept Kohli’s shirts.
“Everybody is showing this clip over and over again. But after your fans are hurt after a disappointing performance, this should be private, not done in the open ground. That’s what I said exactly when I saw the picture [getting the shirts publicly, not privately]. Today was not the day to do this. If you want to do it if your uncle’s son has asked you to get Kohli’s shirt, then do it after the game in the dressing room,” Akram said.
Interestingly, Babar Azam, the recipient of the shirts and Pakistan’s captain, did not address this controversy at the post-match press conference. Instead, the team director, Mickey Arthur, fielded questions from reporters and openly criticized Pakistan’s timid performance. He was disappointed that the team did not play “The Pakistan Way.”