Debate over Virat Kohli and men in blue carrying military metaphor to cricket field post Pulwama attack

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When India and Australia met for the third One Day International of the series in Ranchi, Indian captain Virat Kohli surprised everyone by announcing that the men in blue had decided to pay their tribute to the fallen CRPF soldiers of the Pulwama terror attack.

Virat Kohli

Speaking soon after the toss, Kohli said, “Special caps, this is to pay respect to the martyrs of the Pulwama attack and their families. All the players in the team have decided to donate their match fees of this particular match to the National Defence Fund. I as the captain of the team would urge everyone in the country to do the same, donate and stick with the families of our armed forces. Special game for us.”

This was followed by former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni distributing army caps to every individual of the team including the support staff.

However, Kohli’s gesture evoked mixed reactions as many felt that dragging military into sports was a bad idea; while many praised the gesture by Team India.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said, “Really good way for a Sporting team to show support to the armed forces …”

Vaughan’s comments were in response to famous cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, who had written, “So the Indian team will wear army camouflage style caps today in tribute to, and in solidarity with, the armed forces. Maybe in future, one cricket day will be dedicated to the armed forces. No surprise this is a Dhoni initiative.”

However, not everyone was impressed with this gesture. Former Pepsico executive Llyod Mathias wrote, “A bit contrarian but I’m uncomfortable about Team India carrying a military metaphor onto a cricket field. Tribute to the #pulwamamartyrs is important but a black band would have done just as well.”

Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai agreed as he wrote, “Couldn’t agree more! Sports can be seen by some as war without weapons but let’s allow our soldiers and cricketers their unique identities. Don’t mix sports with the ‘real’ battlefield.”

Thanks to a brilliant century by Usman Khwaja, Australia defeated India in the Ranchi ODI by 32 runs inspite of Kohli scoring yet another century in the 50-over format of the game.

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