'Keep friendship outside...' Gambhir slams banter between India, Pak players after Asia Cup 2023 match washout
While camaraderie between players from different teams is common, former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir believes that such camaraderie should not be on display during cricket matches. When you represent your national team on the field, having a game face is essential, he said.
The opening clash of the 2023 Asia Cup between India and Pakistan ended in a stalemate due to persistent rain, resulting in both teams earning a single point. As heavy rain poured down on the Pallekel International Stadium in Sri Lanka last Saturday, Indian and Pakistani players found themselves engaged in a convivial exchange. While camaraderie between players from different teams is common, former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir believes that such camaraderie should not be on display during cricket matches.
"When you represent your national team on the field, it's imperative to leave friendship beyond the boundary ropes. Having a game face is essential. Friendship should remain outside. There must be aggression in the eyes of both sets of players. You can be as friendly as you want after those six or seven hours of cricket. Those hours are crucial because you are not just representing yourself; you are representing a nation of over a billion," remarked Gambhir.
"These days, you witness players from rival teams patting each other on the back and exchanging fist bumps during a match. This wasn't something you would see a few years ago. You are essentially playing a friendly match," he added.
Gambhir, a former cricketer turned politician, illustrated his point with an example from his friendship with former Pakistan cricketer Kamran Akmal.
"We're very good friends. In fact, I gave him a bat, and he reciprocated with one. I played an entire season with the bat Kamran had given me. We recently had an hour-long conversation," Gambhir added.
Gambhir also touched upon the subject of sledging, expressing that banter between players is acceptable as long as it doesn't become personal.
"(You can) engage in sledging, but avoid getting personal. You must stay within your limits. Do not involve someone's family or cross personal boundaries. Banter is acceptable. In matches against Australia and Pakistan, banter was prevalent," he stated.
Previously, Gambhir criticized the early dismissals of the top-order batsmen who struggled against Pakistan's pace attack.
"Ishan Kishan is in terrific form; he scored a half-century while opening in West Indies. Senior players should bat in the challenging positions, not youngsters. If someone is to bat at No.4, it should have been Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma. Seniors should take up the tough roles. Youngsters should be given their natural positions to excel," commented Gautam Gambhir during the match commentary on Saturday.
India's captain, Rohit Sharma, fell for just 11 runs in the fifth over, while Virat Kohli managed only 4 runs before departing in the seventh over. At 14.1 overs, India was at 66/4, with both Kohli and Sharma falling victim to the exceptional pace bowling of Shaheen Afridi, who also dismissed India's top scorer, Hardik Pandya (87), and Ravindra Jadeja (14).
Shreyas Iyer batted at No. 4 and contributed 14 runs. Without the contributions of Hardik Pandya (87) and Ishan Kishan (82), India would have struggled to reach the 250-run mark. Ultimately, they set a target of 267 runs for Pakistan. However, rain interruptions marred the match, leading to multiple delays during the second innings.