Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir clarified his controversial gesture during the Asia Cup 2023 match against Pakistan in Sri Lanka. He attributed his actions to 'anti-India chants' from a group of Pakistani fans in the crowd. Gambhir emphasized that he cannot remain silent when faced with such comments and urged cricket fans to keep politics out of the sport.
The controversy erupted when a viral video showed Gambhir making a gesture to the crowd during India's Group A match against Pakistan. The video captured chants of "Kohli, Kohli" as Gambhir was walking back to the broadcasting area in Pallekele.
However, Gambhir revealed that social media does not always present the complete picture and claimed that there were anti-India slogans being chanted, including phrases like 'Hindustan Murdabad' and slogans related to Kashmir. He stressed that such provocations naturally elicited a reaction, as he could not tolerate derogatory comments about his country.
Gambhir, who was providing commentary for India's second Group B match against Nepal in Pallekele, explained his stance on the issue. He urged cricket fans to support their teams without bringing political sentiments into the stadium.
He emphasized, "When you have come to watch a match, support your team. There's no need to give political reactions there. There is no need to bring up Kashmir there. There is no need to speak ill about India. You support your team, your country."
Gambhir's statements shed light on the complexity of the situation, highlighting the importance of sportsmanship and unity in cricket matches between India and Pakistan. The Group A match in Pallekele ended in a draw due to rain, with both teams sharing points.
During the lead-up to the Asia Cup contest, Indian and Pakistani cricketers displayed camaraderie by interacting and chatting with each other. Players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Mohammed Siraj engaged with their Pakistani counterparts, promoting goodwill in the spirit of the game.
Gambhir concluded, "Whatever is shown on social media is not always right. The truth of the viral video is that there were 2-3 Pakistani people who were shouting anti-India slogans and saying things about Kashmir. It was my natural reaction; I can't hear things against my country."
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